The Associated Press
July 31, 2008 - 3:54pm

An autopsy by Palestinian forensic doctors indicates that a 10-year-old West Bank boy killed in a confrontation with Israeli forces was shot by live fire, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

Ahmed Moussa was killed on Tuesday in the village of Nilin, during one of the frequent protests there against Israel's West Bank separation barrier. The Israeli military said it was investigating the boy's death.

Ramallah Governor Saed Abu Ali said the autopsy indicated that Ahmed was struck by a single bullet from an M16 assault rifle that entered his forehead and exited the back of his head.

Children dying in clashes between Israel and Palestinians is a sensitive issue for both sides, making impartial autopsies crucial to determining events. Both sides frequently accuse each other of exaggerating events.

Israel sought to do a joint autopsy with the Palestinians either in Israel or in the West Bank, but Palestinian officials refused, Ali said. Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment.

Residents of Nilin protest almost daily against Israel's separation barrier, which threatens to take over hundreds of acres of Nilin’s olive groves. The demonstrations frequently turn into confrontations between stone-throwing youths and Israeli troops firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.

Israeli soldiers usually do not use live fire to quell the protests.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces started erecting a makeshift fence to prevent protesters from reaching bulldozers clearing land for the barrier. Protesters said troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and then live fire to disperse demonstrators trying to scale the fence.

One of the bullets struck Moussa.

Mohammad Nafa, one of the demonstrators, said he and others carried the lifeless boy to an ambulance, cupping his head with a baseball cap to keep his brain inside the skull. In a hospital morgue on Tuesday, the baseball cap was wrapped up with Moussa's body for burial.

Israel's military said in a statement that it would investigate the incident. It said its initial inquiry indicated youths were hurling "rocks in very large quantities". Israeli border police said they would deploy forces better trained in riot control to deal with the protests.

"This type of incident will not repeat itself," Superintendent Sharon Manor, a company commander in Israel's border police, told Israel's army radio on Wednesday.

Manor said troops did not have permission to use live fire, but did not say whether the military thought that was what killed the boy.

Moussa was to be buried in Nilin later Wednesday.

In the Gaza Strip, the ruling Islamic Hamas group said one of its fighters died Wednesday of injuries sustained in a battle with the shadowy Army of Islam militia.

Hamas cracked down on opposition groups after a mysterious car bombing Friday killed five of its members. Hamas police clashed with Army of Islam loyalists on Sunday after attempts to arrest them turned violent.

The Army of Islam issued a statement accusing Hamas of exploiting the bombing to round up militia members. Hamas sees the heavily armed group as a threat to public stability.

The group kidnapped British Broadcasting Corp. journalist Alan Johnston last year and held him four months.


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