UN official condemns killing of Palestinian boy by Israeli soldiers in West Bank

RAMALLAH, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Wednesday condemned the killing of a Palestinian boy by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

In a press statement, Tor Wennesland, UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, expressed his deep concern over the killing of Mohammad Shehada, 14, on Tuesday night near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

On Tuesday night, Palestinian social media activists published video footage of the boy laid on the floor, half-naked of his upper part, covered with blood and surrounded by several soldiers.

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian boy Mohammad Shehada during his funeral in the West Bank village of al-Khader on Feb. 23, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)

Wennesland, who serves as the UN Secretary-General's personal representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, underscored the need to "avoid children being the target of violence or exposing them to harm."

He called on Israeli security forces "to exercise the utmost restraint and to use lethal force only when it is unavoidable to protect life."

On Wednesday, a general strike dominated the city of Bethlehem and the nearby town of al-Khader in protest of the boy's killing, where all shops closed, and children refrained from going to schools.

The Israeli army meanwhile said that Shehada was killed while he was throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli army vehicles and that the soldiers opened fire when their life was in danger.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement that it calls on the countries members of the Fourth Geneva Convention to oblige Israel to abide by international law and respect its medical teams in the Palestinian territories.