At Gush Etzion checkpoint Thursday evening, three Palestinians – two brothers and their cousin – were killed by Israeli soldiers stationed at the checkpoint. Although the Israeli military claimed that the three men were ‘armed with knives’ and were ‘threatening’, no Israeli soldiers were injured.They have been identified as Ahmad Salem Kawazba, 19, Ala Abed Kawazba, 19, and Mohannad Ziad Kawazba, 18.

The Israeli military has come under fire in recent months for its practice of pre-emptively shooting any Palestinian it deems ‘threatening’ – including children. In addition, soldiers have been captured on camera on several occasions planting knives next to the bodies of unarmed Palestinian civilians who were killed by Israeli gunfire.

In this case, the three young relatives were shot dead with multiple rounds by Israeli soldiers when they were near the checkpoint. They have not yet been identified, bu the Israeli military has stated that all three were from Seir village, located near the checkpoint.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has reported that their ambulances and medical personnel were prevented from reaching the men by Israeli troops, who blocked their access.

The killing of the three men came a day after the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced that they will violently take over the Beit al-Baraka historic set of buildings for the further expansion of the Etzion settlement.

In response to the announcement by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon about the takeover of the site, Israeli Member of the Knesset (Parliament) Bezalel Smotrich said, “Our enemies have to know that our roots will only deepen in those places in which they have tried to uproot us”.

On Tuesday, an 18-year old Palestinian was shot dead by soldiers at the same location. He was also from Seir village and, according to ‘’, was a relative of the three killed on Thursday.