A state funeral has been held in Tuesday, for a 3-year-old Palestinian who died days after he was shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank.
3-year-old Muhammad Haitham al-Tamimi is the latest victim of spiraling bloodshed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has prompted fears of a return to full-scale fighting.
Since the start of 2023, Israeli forces have killed at least 156 Palestinians across Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
About half of the casualties were civilians, including 26 children, according to media tallies.
At least 21 Israeli nationals, a Ukrainian and an Italian have been killed in Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
Muhammad Haitham al-Tamimi died four days after he was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers while riding in a car with his father in the occupied West Bank.
He was airlifted to the Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv after the incident on Thursday night and remained in a critical condition until medical officials announced his death on Monday.
His father, Haitham al-Tamimi, 40, is still being treated at a Palestinian hospital. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said troops had opened fire near the village of Nabi Saleh after Palestinian gunmen fired shots towards a guardpost.
Tamimi told reporters there had been no other gunfire, and that he had just buckled up his son in order to drive to an uncle’s house when their car was shot at.
Bilal al-Tamimi, a local activist, told the Palestinian news agency Wafa that the incident was part of an IDF operation in which soldiers had shut the village’s entrance.
After initially blaming the wounding of the father and son on Palestinian crossfire, IDF officials later said that it was not clear who had shot them and that an investigation had been opened, and later said that the pair had been injured by Israeli fire.
In a statement, the IDF said it “regrets harm to noncombatants and is committed to doing everything in its power to prevent such incidents”.
Many Palestinians see similarities in the shifting Israeli narrative over what happened to the Tamimis with last year’s killing of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
In that case, the IDF eventually admitted there was a “high possibility” the reporter had been shot by a soldier, but maintains that it was accidental and that a criminal investigation is not warranted.
IDF investigations into incidents in which Palestinians or their property were harmed by soldiers rarely lead to indictments or prosecutions: according to army data analysed by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organisation, between 2017 and 2021, only 21.4% of complaints led to an investigation – and of the 248 investigations, only 11 resulted in an indictment, making the rate 0.87%.
The IDF says it opens initial operational investigations in all cases in the West Bank in which a Palestinian is killed, unless the death occurred in a combat environment.