A Palestinian toddler who was shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank last week died of his wounds on Monday, Israeli hospital officials said.
Mohammed al-Tamimi was shot in the head last Thursday near his village of Nebi Saleh while riding in a car with his father. He was airlifted to Israel’s Sheba Hospital, which announced the 2-year-old boy’s death.
The Israeli military has said soldiers opened fire after gunmen in the area shot at a nearby Jewish settlement.
But the boy’s father, Haitham al-Tamimi, told The Associated Press that he had just buckled up his son in the car and they were driving to visit an uncle when the bullet struck. The father was also shot and treated at a Palestinian hospital.
People gathered at the family’s home on Monday after hearing of the boy’s death.
“I hope this message will be heard: Innocence and childhood are sacred,” the boy’s father told reporters. He accused Israel of targeting “unarmed people, whether young or old, under the pretext of self-defense.”
“A person in his home and unarmed receives this treatment?” he said.
The Israeli military has opened an investigation into the incident.
Rights groups, however, say that such investigations rarely lead to prosecution or disciplinary action against soldiers.
The shooting was the latest bloodshed in a more than yearlong surge of violence in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. That fighting has picked up since Israel’s new far-right government took office in late December.
Nearly 120 Palestinians have been killed in the two areas this year, with nearly half of them members of armed militant groups, according to an AP tally. The military says the number of militants is much higher. But stone-throwing youths and people uninvolved in violence have also been killed.
Meanwhile, Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis in those areas have killed at least 21 people.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem, along with the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians seek these territories for a future state.
Some 700,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Most of the international community considers these settlements illegal or obstacles to peace.