IDF Kills Two Children
Protesting Separation Wall
By Tamar Traubman, Yoav Stern and Arnon Regular
Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service
Hundreds of left-wing protesters demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening against the Israel Defense Forces' killing Wednesday of two Palestinian youths in the West Bank.
The two teenagers were shot dead near the village of Beit Likia, west of Ramallah, during a protest against the construction of the separation fence in the area.
Thursday's protest started opposite the Defense Ministry's Kirya compound in Tel Aviv and from there demonstrators walked to Likud Party headquarters on King George Street. Some 200-300 people attended the rally.
Once the protest left the Kirya compound, the police announced that it was illegal and begin arresting protesters. At least six people were taken in by police. Police said they were arrested for blocking roads.
MK Mohammed Barakeh addressed the rally and told them that "on the day of [remembrance for] the big Holocaust, we must make sure that there is no 'little holocaust' of Palestinians." He also said that the relatively large number of participants, given the short notice of the rally, proves that the "radical left is waking up."
Earliers Thursday, IDF Central Command chief Yair Naveh suspended a senior Combat Engineering Corps officer who commanded the force that shot dead the two Palestinians.
Naveh said the conduct of the deputy company commander was defined as "unreasonable."
Oudai A'asi, 14, and his 15-year-old cousin Kamal A'asi, both from the West Bank village of Beit Lakia, were shot dead while throwing stones together with dozens of other protestors at a separation fence work site next to a village north of Highway 443.
Around 6 P.M., some 200 youths arrived on the scene and began throwing rocks at bulldozers and at the five soldiers who arrived on the scene in a jeep.
Palestinians on the scene said the soldiers initially opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas grenades and at a certain point began firing live ammunition in the air.
Palestinian sources said the cousins were hit by live ammunition.
Ramallah hospital officials said Uday was hit in the hip and thighs and Kamel was hit in the chest.
One IDF soldier was lightly wounded by Palestinian stone-throwers.
Nineteen-year-old Karem Yusuf, who was near the two casualties, described the scene.
"I saw two soldiers but it is possible there were more," he said. "Near the soldiers was a group of 10 youths and around them were some 200 more. The distance from the first group to the soldiers was about 20 meters. Kamel and Uday were next to me when they were shot. A soldier fired several shots and I saw that Kamel was wounded in his chest."
The IDF said that "according to an initial investigation, a small IDF force securing the separation fence work site was surprised when hundreds of youths attacked them. The force made use of riot control weapons but at a certain point there was a danger to their lives and the force's commander ordered they fire first in the air [with live ammunition] in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators. When this had no effect, he opened fire at the legs of several demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them. The circumstances of the event will be examined."
"This is a violation of the cease-fire," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, advisor to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters. "Israel is looking for excuses to raise tensions and to depart from implementing the Sharm (el-Sheikh) understandings."
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