Early reports suggest Israeli forces unlawfully killed 17-year-old Palestinian boy

May 24, 2021
Israeli forces cordon off the site where Zuhdi Muhannad Zuhdi al-Tawil, 17, was killed by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem on May 24, 2021. (Photo: AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)

Ramallah, May 24, 2021—Israeli forces gunned down a 17-year-old Palestinian boy in occupied East Jerusalem today after he allegedly committed a stabbing attack at a light rail station, in what appears to be an extrajudicial killing.

Zuhdi Muhannad Zuhdi al-Tawil, 17, from the northern East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab, allegedly stabbed an Israeli settler and soldier around 12 p.m. today at a Jerusalem light rail station on Haim Bar-Lev Street located near the Israeli police national headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem, according to information collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. He then fled, running away from the station toward Route 60, where Israeli forces pursued and opened fire on him, killing him, according to information collected by DCIP. 

Zuhdi can be seen standing in a crowd at the station before a brief altercation occurs and he flees, according to video footage released by Israeli police. The same video shows him running toward Route 60 when an Israeli police officer appears behind him prior to Zuhdi collapsing. Another individual appears in the same video in front of Zuhdi as he enters the roadway median. The individual seemingly stands their ground as Zuhdi collapses, however, without sound in the video, it is difficult to determine whether Zuhdi was shot from the front or back. 

An eyewitness told DCIP that at least six rounds were fired in total. Separate video footage from a bystander shows Israeli forces firing at least three shots after Zuhdi was incapacitated and on the ground, which may amount to an extrajudicial killing.

“Israeli forces routinely unlawfully kill Palestinian children with impunity, using intentional lethal force against Palestinian children when not justified by the situation,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program Director at DCIP. “If a child is suspected of committing a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international standards and afforded due process of law.”

Two young men in their early 20s were reportedly injured and taken to nearby Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus for treatment, according to Haaretz.

International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable where there is a threat to life or serious injury. If an individual allegedly carries out a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.

Israeli forces routinely employ the use of excessive force and intentional lethal force in situations not justified by international norms, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, increasingly targeted Palestinians, including children, with live ammunition to quash protests since the beginning of 2014.

In response to escalating violence in 2015, Israeli authorities relaxed open-fire rules, allowing Israeli forces to use live ammunition during protests in Jerusalem when there is a “threat to life.” Previously, live ammunition was permitted only when there is a direct, mortal threat to the life of a police officer or soldier.

Since 2013, Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 167 Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory with live ammunition and crowd-control weapons, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Zuhdi is the seventh child from the West Bank shot and killed by Israeli forces this year. 

Mohammad Khalil Younis Mohammad Freijat, 14, was struck in the head with Israeli-fired live ammunition around 11 p.m. on May 12, in Hebron’s Bab Al-Zawya neighborhood and died from his injuries on May 16, DCIP reported.

Israeli forces killed 16-year-old Islam Wael Fahmi Dar Nasser, on Tuesday, May 18, in the village of Bil'in, located west of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Islam was shot in the head during a demonstration as Israeli forces confronted Palestinian protestors in the village near Israel’s separation barrier, according to information collected by DCIP.

Obaida Akram Abdurahman Jawabra, 17, was shot dead by Israeli forces with live ammunition Monday, May 17, around 8 p.m. local time in Al-Arroub refugee camp located near the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Obaida sustained a gunshot wound to his chest during a demonstration at the entrance of the camp located near Route 60, the main route in the West Bank connecting Hebron and Jerusalem, DCIP reported.

Rashid Mohammad Rashid Abu Arra, 16, was shot dead by Israeli forces with live ammunition early in the morning of Wednesday, May 12, in the village of Aqaba, located northwest of Tubas in the occupied West Bank. He was shot from behind and sustained two gunshot wounds to the upper and middle back, DCIP reported. 

On May 5, Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Said Yousef Mohammad Odeh in Odala, a village located south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Israeli forces reportedly confronted Palestinian youth at the village entrance prior to the shooting. Said was not involved in the confrontations at the time he was shot, according to information collected by DCIP.

Israeli forces shot and killed 17-year-old Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan on January 26 after he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier stationed at Hares Junction, southwest of Nablus and near the illegal Israeli settlements, Revava and Barqan.

News | Fatalities and Injuries
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