Mohammed Ayoub was shot dead by an Israeli sniper on Friday, as the heated protests along the heavily fortified Israeli border with Gaza went into their fourth week. The so-called ‘March of Return’ protest is being staged as a desperate Palestinian claim to their former homes, appropriated from them by Israel in 1948. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, thousands of protesters have so far been injured – and almost 40 killed – as the rules of engagement allow the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to use live fire against any rioters they deem dangerous.
The moment Ayoub was hit “with an explosive bullet in the head” was captured by a local cameraman, Abdul Hakim Abu Riyash, who told RT the teenager was nowhere near the frontline and rather “far away from the Israeli fence – about 200-300 meters.”
“He was not a threat to the Israeli army and he was not making any movement that can be considered as a threat,” the cameraman said, emphasizing that the 15-year-old “was participating in the march like everyone else.”
“He wasn’t carrying any sort of weapon – not a stone, neither a slingshot, which my video proves,” Riyash said.
Mohammed’s grieving parents recall warning him that “the Israelis are threating and targeting people,” but despite their attempt to forbid their son from taking part in the protests on Friday, he disobeyed them.
“He asked to go play outside, when he left he told his aunt that he is going to the demonstration for one hour only, and as soon as he got there they targeted and executed him… it happened in less than an hour,” the boy’s mother said.
The father of the killed teenager added that Mohammed was an “innocent child,” who only wanted to “to take a look at his taken lands and to know that he got rights.” The Israeli soldier who took his son’s life must be a person “with no conscience,” the bereft father told RT. “But not him alone, him and his state and president, those people are unethical.”
While Mohammed’s death caused international outcry, he was not the first Palestinian teenager to be killed by Israeli security forces, the man said. “Did they prosecute the soldiers who killed those children?”he wondered.
“I demand the UN and all countries to stand with us and punish the despicable [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the terrorist, shameless soldier,” the father added.
After the footage of Mohammed’s killing emerged online, the EU condemned the Israeli actions and demanded a “full investigation” of the incident. “As we once again mourn the loss of lives, the EU calls on the Israel Defense Forces to refrain from using lethal force against unarmed protesters. As stated repeatedly, the priority now must be to avoid any further escalation of violence and loss of life,” the bloc’s statement said.
The chorus of outraged voices was joined by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who urged a thorough investigation and wondered on Twitter: “How does the killing of a child in Gaza today help peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing.”
? It is OUTRAGEOUS to shoot at children! 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.
— Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) April 20, 2018
Meanwhile, the IDF in its statement casually shunned any responsibility for the teenager’s death and put all the blame on Palestinian radical group Hamas.
“Unfortunately, the Hamas terror organization deliberately places civilians in danger, when every week it places young children and women on the front line of the riots, sending them to the security fence and using them as a ‘human shield’ for the realization of its goals,” the IDF statement read.
The IDF said it “again warns civilians against approaching the security fence and participating in the violent activities and terror attacks” despite witnesses saying that Mohammed wasn’t involved in any of those activities. It added that the 15-year-old’s death will be “thoroughly checked” just like all other cases when “it is claimed that an individual was killed by IDF fire.”