Jerusalem: Rights group Amnesty International on Friday described this week's shooting death of a young Palestinian woman at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank as an "extrajudicial execution". Israel had on Thursday defended the actions of its soldiers who shot dead the 18-year-old as questions swirled over events leading to the killing.
Hadeel al-Hashlamon was shot on Tuesday at a checkpoint in the flashpoint city of Hebron. The military said she was attempting to stab a soldier when they opened fire.
"Evidence obtained by Amnesty International indicates that the killing... was an extrajudicial execution," the group said.
"Pictures of the stand-off that led to her death and accounts by eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty International show that she at no time posed a sufficient threat to the soldiers to make their use of deliberate lethal force permissible," it said.
"This killing is the latest in a long line of unlawful killings carried out by the Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank with near total impunity."
An activist with the Palestinian group Youth Against Settlements that distributed photos purporting to show the woman at the checkpoint before her death said he arrived at the scene shortly afterwards.
"She did not have a knife," said the activist, Issa Amro. "She was murdered in cold blood and was not a threat to the soldiers."
Israeli rights group B'Tselem on Thursday denounced what it called the "disproportionate reaction" of the soldiers, saying they were too quick resorting to live fire.
Israeli news media on Thursday published a photo distributed by the military of a knife on the ground that the woman allegedly used.
According to a military official, the checkpoint's metal detector sounded when she walked through it and soldiers ordered her to stop.
"She didn't stop and continued walking," the official said.
"She approached one of the troops while pulling a knife out of her bag while the soldiers fired at the ground, then at her legs. In spite of this, she continued walking. The troops then fired at her lower body."
The rights group disputed the Israeli's military's version of events, saying it "is contradicted by statements made by the two eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty International".
The Palestinian city of Hebron in the southern West Bank is a powder keg where 500 Israeli settlers live behind barbed wire and watchtowers.
Tuesday's killing came with tensions high in the West Bank and Jerusalem after three days of clashes last week at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and with the convergence this week of the Jewish Yom Kippur and Muslim Eid al-Adha holidays....