Ramallah, January 16, 2019—A thirteen-year-old boy from Jabalia refugee camp died on January 14 after being critically injured by Israeli forces three days earlier during “Great March of Return” protests in the northern Gaza Strip.
Abdel-Raouf Ismail Mohammad Salha was struck on the left side of his head by an Israeli-fired tear gas canister that caused a brain injury on the afternoon of January 11, 2019. The boy was pronounced dead from his injuries on Monday around 5 p.m. in Gaza City’s Shifa hospital.
“Crowd control weapons such as tear gas canisters can become lethal weapons when fired at children, especially if the point of impact is on a child’s head or torso,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director to Defense for Children International - Palestine. “Last year, DCIP documented three cases where children died after tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces struck them.”
Around 4 p.m. last Friday, Abdel-Raouf was participating in a weekly protest in the Abu Safia hill area, southeast of Beit Hanoun, based on preliminary reports gathered by DCIP. A witness told DCIP that he saw the boy standing approximately 150 meters (492 feet) from the perimeter fence with a group of other protesters, when Israeli forces in military jeeps on the other side of the perimeter fence fired tear gas canisters at the group. The witness saw Abdel-Raouf collapse and a wound bleeding from his head.
Abdel-Raouf was transported first to the emergency room at the Indonesian hospital, then transferred to Shifa hospital where he underwent surgery. Physicians from the intensive care unit at Shifa hospital told DCIP that the force of impact caused a skull fracture and fragments of bone to enter the boy’s brain. Abdel-Raouf succumbed to his injuries after three days of unsuccessful medical interventions, on January 14.
In 2018, DCIP independently verified the deaths of 57 Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli forces or settlers across the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Gaza Strip children accounted for 49 of these fatalities, including a child who succumbed to wounds from a previous injury by Israeli forces during its 2014 large-scale assault on Gaza.
A high proportion of the Gaza Strip fatalities, 45, were killed by Israeli forces since the start of “Great March of Return” protests on March 30, 2018, often in the context of protests or related activities.
In the overwhelming majority of these 57 cases, DCIP was able to confirm children did not present any imminent, mortal threat or threat of serious injury when killed by Israeli forces.
On January 11, DCIP submitted a joint report to United Nations investigators detailing Israeli forces’ killing of Palestinian children during mass protests in the Gaza Strip in 2018. The report concludes Israeli forces and officials are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international law for the killing of Palestinian child protesters in the Gaza Strip.