Israeli investigation after 16-year-old Palestinian boy shot dead by soldiers

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The Israeli authorities say they are investigating an incident in which soldiers shot dead a 16-year-old Palestinian boy.

Saeed Yusuf Muhammad Oudeh was shot in the back at about 9pm on Wednesday outside the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus.

In a statement to Sky News, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said: "Yesterday, during routine activity adjacent to the village of Beita, south of Nablus, a number of suspects hurled Molotov cocktails towards IDF troops.

"The troops responded according to open fire protocols, including firing towards the suspects. The incident is being investigated."

However, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dispute the suggestion that Oudeh was among those in a confrontation with the Israeli soldiers.

Defence for Children International - Palestine said: "Israeli forces reportedly confronted Palestinian youth at the village entrance prior to the shooting. Saeed was not involved in the confrontations at the time he was shot, according to information collected by our team.

"Israeli forces deployed in a nearby olive grove fired live ammunition at Saeed as he approached the village entrance. He sustained at least two gunshot wounds: in the back near his right shoulder and pelvis. Both bullets exited from the front."

The Israeli authorities, who dismiss organisations like Defence for Children International as being anti-Israeli, have not yet provided further details on the incident.

The killing represents the latest spark in a fortnight of tension at a level not seen for five years.

The Israeli security services launched a manhunt across the West Bank this week after three Israelis were shot in a drive-by attack last Sunday.

They included 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta who died of his injuries on Wednesday.

The shooting happened at Tapuah Junction south of Nablus, a busy intersection and bus stop used by Jewish settlers.

Montasser Shalabi, 44, was arrested by the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, on Wednesday near Ramallah.

A combination of factors has prompted the tension.

A planned eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Israeli settlers has caused nightly confrontations.

An Israeli court said on Thursday that the eviction order has been delayed until next week.

Sundown on Sunday marks the beginning of Jerusalem Day where Israelis celebrate what they see as the reunification of the city after the Six Day War in 1967.

There is an expectation that hardline Israeli nationalists and Palestinians could clash.

The tension comes a time when both Israeli and Palestinian politics is in chaos.

Israeli politicians are still struggling to form a viable coalition government, and Palestinians recently called off their elections, planned for May, because Israel will not allow voting in East Jerusalem.