Ramallah, August 7, 2023—A Palestinian boy died this morning after an Israeli settler guard shot him in the chest last Wednesday in the central occupied West Bank.
Ramzi Fathi Abdulrahman Hamed, 17, was in a car with his friends near the entrance to the Palestinian village of Silwad around 1 a.m. on August 2 when an Israeli settler guard from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement Ofra, also in a car, opened fire on the car Ramzi and his friends were in from a distance of about 10 meters (33 feet), according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Ramzi, who was sitting in the passenger seat, sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen and was transferred to Ramallah Hospital Complex in a private car. Ramzi remained in the hospital and was pronounced dead around 8 a.m. on August 7.
“Palestinian children live in a hyper-militarized context where Israeli civilians illegally settled in occupied territory are armed by the Israeli government as a matter of official policy,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Israeli soldiers, police, and private security staff not only protect Israeli settler populations, but they also aid, abet, and perpetrate violence against Palestinians, including children.”
When the driver of the car Ramzi was in saw the Israeli settlement guard’s car, he attempted to turn around, according to documentation collected by DCIP. The Israeli settlement guard then opened fire on the car.
Israel has an obligation as the “Occupying Power” under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population living under Israeli military occupation. However, DCIP documentation shows that Israeli forces frequently fail to intervene to stop or prevent Israeli settler attacks.
Settler attacks usually entail groups of Israeli men throwing stones at Palestinians, often including children, or vandalizing property, such as homes, cars, churches, mosques and schools. Beatings and shootings, resulting in injuries and occasionally fatalities, are also regular occurrences, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
Israel’s Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank amount to a war crime as transferring civilians into the Occupied Palestinian Territory violates international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Despite living in the same territory, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, while Israeli settlers living illegally in permanent, Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land are subject to the Israeli civilian legal system.
40 Palestinian children have been killed in 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers have shot and killed at least 32 Palestinian children and killed one Palestinian child with a targeted drone strike in the occupied West Bank. Six Palestinian children in Gaza were killed in the May 2023 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and a 10-year-old Palestinian child in Gaza succumbed to head wounds he sustained during the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip in August 2022.
Under international law, intentional lethal force is only justified in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury is present. However, investigations and evidence collected by DCIP regularly suggest that Israeli forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings.
53 Palestinian children were killed in 2022, according to documentation collected by DCIP, including 36 Palestinian children shot and killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the occupied West Bank. DCIP documented the killing of 17 Palestinian children between August 5–7 after Israeli forces launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip.