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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Israel investigates killing of boy
The funeral of Baha Albahsh
The funeral of Baha Albahsh took place on Sunday
The Israeli army has appointed a major general to investigate the killing of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday.

Two British human rights activists say they witnessed the unprovoked killing of Baha Albahsh.


The soldier fired. It was not accidental. The soldiers decided to kill him

Ewa Jasiewicz
British witness
According to the witnesses, the death occurred as Palestinian demonstrators were dispersing after protests against the siege at Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) told BBC News Online that the investigation should be concluded by the end of Tuesday.

Military officials initially said Albahsh set himself on fire handling a fire bomb.


There is no way Baha could have been a threat to a soldier 120 metres away in a flak jacket and helmet and sitting in an APC

Al
British witness
But medical officials in Nablus said the boy was killed by a gunshot to the chest.

The British witnesses are members of the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led organisation of locals and foreigners.

The organisation stages protests against the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza and its activists try to act as human shields for Palestinians.

Observers

The two Britons were observing IDF behaviour towards Palestinian youths breaking a military curfew.

One of the witnesses, 24-year-old Ewa Jasiewicz from London, told the Associated Press news agency: "A soldier popped up from inside [an armoured personnel carrier]. I saw him with his rifle and he aimed at some kids on the street. There was no stone throwing or shooting going on at the time."

Sahar Albahsh over the body of her 13-year-old son
Sahar Albahsh mourns over the body of her 13-year-old son
Ms Jasiewicz said that in her month in the West Bank and Gaza Strip she had often seen soldiers aim their rifles, but not fire.

"This time was different. The soldier fired. It was not accidental. The soldiers decided to kill him.

"I saw Baha lying on the ground, with blood coming out of his chest... I saw blood oozing from his mouth. We called an ambulance and the ambulance came and took him.

"Baha had nothing on him, he was just wearing jeans with his t-shirt tucked in to a belt," Ms Jasiewicz said.

The second British witness only gave his name as Al because of problems he says international activists face at the airport when leaving Israel.

He told the London-based Guardian newspaper: "There is no way Baha could have been a threat to a soldier 120 metres away in a flak jacket and helmet and sitting in an APC."

Nablus, the West Bank's most populous city, has been under almost constant curfew since 21 June when Israeli forces moved into the main cities and towns of the West Bank.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
British witness speaks to the BBC's Paul Wood
"The Bullet passed close to me... Baha was lying flat on his back bleeding"

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24 Sep 02 | Middle East
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