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Israeli army kills a third Palestinian child in 72 hours

Jerusalem24 Noelle Mafarjeh and Nadeen Alshaer – The Israeli military killed a Palestinian teenager in a nighttime raid on Balata refugee camp in Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

17-year-old Amer Abu Zaytoun was shot in the head and pronounced dead shortly afterwards. Amer is the third Palestinian child to be shot and killed by the Israeli army in less than 72 hours.

A further two Palestinians were injured by live ammunition during the raid.

According to Amer’s family and other local sources, the military prevented ambulances from entering the camp, delaying crucial medical treatment for the injured.

On lookout duty

According to local sources, “large” numbers of Israeli military vehicles entered the camp around 2AM and surrounded a house belonging to Hassan Arayshi, a former detainee in Israeli prisons. The army deployed snipers to several buildings in the vicinity.

Local journalist Baker Abdelhaq, who lives in the camp in close proximity to the house besieged by the army, tells Jerusalem24 that Amer would often “walk” with Palestinian fighters in the streets of the camp, and served as a lookout to warn of soldiers entering the camp.

Amer was uninvolved in armed confrontations between the Israeli military and the Palestinian fighters of Balata refugee camp, says Abdelhaq, and was alone when he was shot.

Security camera footage shows Amer walking through an alleyway of the camp with his phone in hand. He suddenly looks up from the screen and begins running.

The timestamp from the security footage is incorrect, but the first reports of the army invasion in Nablus emerged on social media at 2:01AM, and the first reports of injuries – including a severe injury by gunshot wound to head – between 2:09AM and 2:14AM.

According to Abdelhaq, Amer was on the corner of the market street in the center of the camp. When he peered around the corner, he was shot in the head and fell to the ground.

He was then shot a further two times with live ammunition, once in the right wrist and once in the left knee.

Dr. Othman Abu Salah, Medical Director of Rafidia Hospital where Amer was transferred, told Jerusalem24 that Amer was shot in the head with an explosive bullet – the type of ammunition used by Israeli snipers.

The military raid ended less than an hour after it began when Arayshi was detained from his home. According to local sources who spoke to Quds News Network, the soldiers assaulted Arayshi’s family members and caused severe damage to the house when they entered it to seize the former prisoner.

“My dear, beloved brothers”

Amer was born on 24 February 2005 in Balata refugee camp.

Around 41,000 residents live in the camp, spanning an area of 0.25 square kilometers. The camp is the frequent target of Israeli army raids, which have further increased in frequency and intensity throughout 2022.

Of the 153 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem who were shot and killed by the Israeli military or police in 2022, 33 hailed from Nablus including Balata, five of them children. Amer knew several of them.

The teenager’s Facebook page displays the names of five Palestinian teenagers and youths from Balata who were killed in the past 18 months, as well as photographs of them.

Amer appeared particularly close to 15-year-old Imad Hashash, who was shot and killed by the army on 24 August 2021 as he stood on the roof of his home watching a military raid unfold, and 15-year-old Mahdi “Shimon” Hashash, who died of severe injuries caused by shrapnel to his abdomen and legs during an Israeli settler incursion into the site of Yusuf’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus on 9 November 2022.

Amer also mourns on his page 18-year-old Waseem Khalifa who was shot and killed by the army on 18 August 2022, 16-year-old Nader Rayyan who was shot and killed by the army on 15 March 2022, and 21-year-old Bakir Hashash who was shot and killed by the army on 6 January 2022.

Like his friend Mahdi “Shimon”, Amer nicknamed himself “Abu Yazan Balata”.

On 13 September 2021, Amer posted a photograph of him embracing Imad Hashash before the teenager’s funeral. “May God have mercy on your soul, my dear, beloved brother,” he wrote.

Then-15-year-old Amer embraces 15-year-old Imad Hashash before he is laid to rest, August 24 2021. [Source: Amer Abu Zaytoun/Facebook]
Amer’s uncle Bilal Abu Zaytoun told WAFA News Agency that Amer had quit school in order to help his family financially. One of Amer’s brothers was arrested by the Israeli military two weeks ago, while another was released.

Amer is the third in his family to be killed by Israeli soldiers.

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