Far right Israeli MP hails soldier over shooting Palestinian boy
Far-right Israeli member of Knesset has praised the soldier who shot and killed Palestinian young man at point-blank range on Friday.
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Itamar Ben-Gvir has told soldier caught on widely-shared video killing Palestinian in Huwwara that his 'swift and rigorous' actions were 'honorable'.
Speaking to the soldier who shot a Palestinian man dead at point-blank range on Friday, Ben Gvir hailed the killing as "precise, swift and rigorous", calling the shooter a "hero".
Israeli forces claimed that the 22-year-old Ammar Mefleh had tried to carry out an alleged stabbing attack before he was fatally shot, however in the video Mefleh's hands are empty during the scuffle with the solider, including during the moments in which he was shot.
Palestinian groups were quick to condemn what they called a "cold-blooded field execution" as a "war crime" which they said reflected the new far-right Israeli government.
Israeli forces have long been criticized for their “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians in cases where the victims did not pose an imminent threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers who then killed them.
Rights groups say the policy amounts to "summary execution".
Mefleh is the ninth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this week amid a spike in Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank this year.
Israeli forces and settlers have killed 159 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, in the West Bank in 2022, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
2022 has been the deadliest for Palestinian deaths based on the monthly average of deaths, which is the highest since the UN began recording fatalities in 2005.
The comments directly contrast rights groups’ description of the shooting as an "execution" in "broad daylight".
Following the incident, Jewish Voice for Peace on Friday called on the US to cut off all military funding to Israel, highlighting that Mefleh was the ninth Palestinian killed by the Israeli military this week.
Meanwhile, the International Human Rights Foundation said the shooting "must not go unpunished", calling for sanctions against Israel.
"Such assassinations by agents of the Israeli state are too common and constitute a clear violation of human rights. The International Community must adopt sanctions, “the group said” in a post on Twitter.
For his part, Tor Wennesland, UN special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, offered his "heartfelt condolences" to Mefleh’s family while demanding accountability.
"Such incidents must be fully & promptly investigated, & those responsible held accountable," Wennesland said.