Israeli forces shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the Deheisha refugee camp during a violent detention raid on Monday before dawn in the southern occupied West Bank.
The boy, identified as Arkan Mezher, was fatally shot in the chest near his heart around 4 a.m. Two more Palestinians in their mid-20s were arrested.
Mezher is one of at least 28 Palestinian children killed by Israel since the beginning of the year.
Israeli soldiers were raiding the camp as part of a routine search and arrest operation, which regularly provoke confrontations with local youth from the camp,who respond to the raids by throwing stones at the armed soldiers and their military vehicles.
Locals told Mondoweiss that more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers entered the camp in at least 35 military jeeps.
“The soldiers first entered the camp around 2 a.m. They just came in shooting in every direction, live bullets, rubber bullets, tear gas, everything,” M.S. a resident of Deheisha who witnessed the incursion and asked to remain anonymous, told Mondoweiss.
According to M.S, the soldiers heavily fired tear gas at people’s homes, causing many — whose windows were open due to the hot summer temperatures — to choke.
“In my house alone, on my balcony and around the house, we found around 10 tear gas canisters when we woke up in the morning,” M.S. said.
Israeli detention raids in Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps are a near-nightly occurrence.
Refugee camps are often subject to the most violent raids due to the congested nature of the camp infrastructure.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Mondoweiss that during Monday’s raid, “violent riots were instigated in which Palestinians hurled rocks and threw fire bombs and grenades at IDF soldiers.”
“In response to the threat, soldiers used riot dispersal means, and fired live rounds selectively,” the spokesperson said, adding that “the incident is being looked into,” when referring to the killing of Mezher, and the injury of a second person with live ammunition.
While Israel typically uses lethal and less-than lethal force in its crowd control measures, residents of Deheisha camp — widely known for being the scene of deadly night raids — vehemently dispute that the firing of live fire and tear gas is intended to subdue crowds. Palestinians argue that the force of the soldiers provokes stone throwing, not the other way around.
“This happens all the time in Deheisha,” M.S told Mondoweiss, as he recounted the events of Monday’s raid. “They come with the intention to kill. From the moment they enter the camp, we can hear constant shooting, and it doesn’t stop until they leave.”
“Deheisha is a special case,” M.S continued. “Every time the soldiers invade the camp, there is a fear, or even a knowledge, among the people that someone will be killed and become a martyr.”
“The way that they enter the camp, in these numbers and so aggressively, it is proof that they are coming to kill,” he said.
According to M.S, 15-year-old Mezher is one of at least four or five residents of the camp who were killed during raids over the past two years.
“Every single one of them was martyred in the exact same way, this is not just an accident or a coincidence.”
As he spoke to Mondoweiss, M.S. implored people to watch the video showing the moments after Mezher was shot.
“You can see that he was still breathing, he was still alive. But because the soldiers did not allow the ambulance into the camp, and they closed most of the entrances and exits, it took longer to get him to the hospital, and he died on the way.”
According to UN documentation, Israeli forces have conducted a bi-weekly average of 179 search and arrest operations in the occupied West Bank in 2018.