RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israeli gunfire killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy Tuesday during a confrontation between troops and stone-throwers in a West Bank village, medics and witnesses said.

The Israeli military said it would conduct an investigation.

The boy, Ahmed Moussa, was killed in the West Bank village of Naalin, site of frequent demonstrations against Israel's separation barrier, which threatens to swallow up hundreds of acres of Naalin's olive groves.

The boy was killed by a shot to the forehead, according to medics and an Associated Press reporter who saw his body at Ramallah Hospital.

The Naalin demonstrations frequently develop into confrontations between stone-throwing youths and Israeli troops firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces erected a makeshift fence to prevent protesters from reaching bulldozers clearing land for the barrier, and young men and boys gathered nearby, said Farah Khawaja, a protest organizer.

Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators trying to scale the fence. By late afternoon, the clashes had subsided, but several teenage boys remained in the area and kept throwing stones, Khawaja said.

He said soldiers fired more tear gas and then live bullets.

Moussa was struck in the forehead, with a large exit wound in the back of the head. Mohammed Nafa, one of the demonstrators, said he and others carried the boy to an ambulance, cupping his head with a baseball cap.

At a hospital in the nearby town of Ramallah, the boy's family waited at the morgue. Mourners gathered around the boy's father, who leaned against a wall. A paramedic who had driven the body sat on stairs and wept.

"We told him not to go down (to the protests), but he wouldn't listen," the boy's aunt, Khadija Moussa, said in a telephone interview.

Moussa is the first fatality in months of Naalin protests.

The military said it would conduct "a thorough examination with the forces in the region" and consult with Palestinian medical personnel.

Also Tuesday, an Israeli battalion commander was placed on 10 days of leave for his alleged role in the shooting of a bound, blindfolded Naalin protester on July 7.

The investigation into that incident continues, the army said Tuesday, referring to the shooting as "grave."

The incident was captured in footage taken by a Naalin resident and was distributed by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem.

The footage shows an Israeli soldier slowly taking aim and firing at the feet of the protester, as an Israeli officer holds the bound man's arm. The protester was lightly injured.

In the northern West Bank city of Nablus, meanwhile, a well-known dissident was released a day after sweeping detention raids by security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abdel Sattar Qassem, a political science professor and frequent government critic, said he was not interrogated but saw other detainees who appeared to have been beaten in the Nablus lockup.

Since the weekend, Abbas' forces have arrested dozens of suspected supporters of the Islamic militant Hamas. The move came in apparent retaliation for a similar roundup of Abbas loyalists in Hamas-ruled Gaza. That sweep followed a bombing that killed five Hamas activists in Gaza.

The mutual detention raids came as two human rights groups reported widespread mistreatment in Palestinian lockups in the West Bank and Gaza.

Qassem said he spent a night at Nablus' Jneid Prison with some 60 other detainees. He said he saw a Hamas member of the Nablus city council with his clothes ripped, and said other detainees bore signs of beatings.

At a nearby hospital, a medical official said a 21-year-old son of a leading Hamas activist was admitted after being severely beaten.

The doctor who examined the young man said he had a black eye, and bruises around his neck, back and head. The doctor refused to give his name for fear of retribution.

Also Tuesday, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian Authority forces broke up a protest held by the Liberation Party, an Islamic group that calls for the establishment of a pan-Muslim state.

Hundreds of women in headscarves and robes marched down a main street alongside a few dozen men. They waved their party's black flag and shouted slogans against the Abbas government.

"Authority of Spies!" the crowd chanted, "Infidels!"

Security forces fired in the air and arrested some of the men.

The Liberation Party frequently denounces the West Bank's moderate leadership as infidels, but unlike Hamas espouses nonviolent change.


Associated Press writers Ali Daraghmeh in Nablus and Nasser Shiyoukhi in Hebron contributed to this report.