Israeli army investigating death of Palestinian teen during border protests
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Israeli army investigating death of Palestinian teen during border protests

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s military is investigating the death of a Palestinian teenager killed during protests on the Gaza-Israel border.

Mohammed Ayoub, 15, was killed Friday during the fourth week of protests along the border during what is being called the “Great March of Return.” His shooting about 100 yards from the border was captured on video. It appears the teen was shot in the head.

About 10,000 protesters gathered at the border on Friday. According to the Israel Defense Forces, “the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, headed by Hamas, continued to use civilians, including youth and children, as a disguise for different terror acts to damage security infrastructures.”

The IDF said that Ayoub was heading for the main border fence when he was shot. The IDF later released photos of young Palestinian boys using the cover of firebombs to attempt to breach the border fence.

Prior to the start of Friday’s protests, the IDF dropped leaflets warning residents to stay away from the border fence.

The Israeli response to the protests has drawn international outrage.

“It is outrageous to shoot at children!” U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a tweet. “How does the killing of a child in Gaza today help peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing. Children must be protected from violence, not exposed to it, not killed! This tragic incident must be investigated.”

Some 35 Palestinians have been killed since the start of protests on March 30. They are scheduled to last until May 14, the date on the Gregorian calendar that Israel was declared a state, which the Arab world calls the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”

On Saturday, the European Union called for a “full investigation” into the death of Ayoub and three other Palestinian protesters the previous day.

“A full investigation by Israel of Mohammed Ayoub’s death is underway so that we will be able to understand what happened,” U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a tweet. “As we mourn the tragic loss of a young life, we must all resolve to avoid causing more suffering by responses to his death.”

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman blamed Hamas for the teen’s death.

“The leaders of Hamas are the only culprits in the death of the boy, the cowardly leaders who hide behind children and women and send them forward as human shields so that they can continue digging attack tunnels and carrying out terror attacks against the State of Israel,” Liberman said.