Report: U.S. government has ‘concerns’ about death of Palestinian-American teen in West Bank

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Obama administration reportedly said it still has “concerns” about the death of a Palestinian-American teen at the hands of Israeli security forces.

Mahmoud Shalan, 16, who was born in Florida and held U.S. citizenship, was killed in February at a West Bank checkpoint near Ramallah where Israeli soldiers say he tried to stab them. Shalan was shot five times.

Israeli soldiers are also accused of preventing a Palestinian ambulance from attending to the teen as he lay bleeding on the ground, though an IDF medical unit and a team from the Magen David Adom rescue service reportedly assisted him before he succumbed to his wounds.

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv asked the Israeli military to investigate the incident.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, Anne Patterson, said in a letter sent this week to religious groups that had raised concerns about the case that the Israeli Military Advocate General told the U.S. that it “did not find that the soldiers’ actions gave rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal conduct.”

The advocate general then ordered the case closed “without opening a criminal investigation or ordering further action against those involved in the incident,” Patterson wrote, according to the Associated Press.

Patterson said that U.S. officials “continue to have concerns about the death of this American citizen” after a review of evidence gathered by Israel. She said in the letter that the U.S. “will remain engaged with the government of Israel on this issue.”

In the days after the shooting, Haaretz reported that Shalan’s family did not believe the teen went to the checkpoint to stab a soldier and that he planned to go to medical school in the United States.

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