JERUSALEM (AP) — A 3-year-old Palestinian boy was in critical condition at an Israeli hospital Friday morning after being shot by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank. The army opened an investigation into what it said was an unintentional shooting.
In a statement, the military said that gunmen opened fire late Thursday toward the West Bank settlement of Neve Tzuf. It said soldiers at a guard post returned fire.
Moments later, Israeli medics received reports that a Palestinian man and the child had been badly wounded. The man was rushed to a Palestinian hospital, while the child, after being resuscitated by Israeli medics, was airlifted to Israel’s Sheba Hospital. The hospital said the boy was in critical condition.
Haitham Aal-Tamimi, the father, said he had just buckled up his son in the car and was driving to visit an uncle living nearby when the bullet struck.
“The car was hit by gunfire, and I tried to stop it. I felt a pain in my shoulder and when I looked at my son, I found that he had been shot in the head and had fallen out of his car seat, bleeding,” he told the Associated Press.
The military released a grainy video showing what it said were the gunmen firing toward the settlement and said that it was searching for them.
But it said the incident was being reviewed, saying “it regrets harm to noncombatants” and that it does “everything in its power to prevent such incidents.”
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 Associated Press 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.
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