Ramallah, September 22, 2016—Israeli forces shot dead four Palestinian children in Hebron, during the most concentrated period of deadly violence in the West Bank since June.
In separate incidents between September 16 and September 20, four Palestinian teenagers were fatally shot by Israeli soldiers in Hebron. Seven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers in less than a week, marking the highest concentration of Palestinian deaths since June, when three Palestinians were killed in under 48 hours, according to Ma’an News Agency. Earlier this month, another child, Abdul-Rahman Dabbagh, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in Gaza.
“International law requires that intentional lethal force is only used when lesser means would be insufficient to apprehend a suspect,” said Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at DCIP. "Recent evidence suggests that Israeli forces are implementing a 'shoot-to-kill' policy, yet systemic impunity is normal and accountability extremely rare."
Issa Salem Mahmoud Tarairah, 15, was killed on September 20 by Israeli forces, who alleged that he was carrying a knife and intended to stab soldiers at a checkpoint near Bani Na’im, in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron. Amir Jamal Ahmed al-Rajaby, 16, was gunned down by Israeli soldiers near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron the day before. An Israeli police spokesperson claimed that Amir was walking toward border police while brandishing a knife when he was killed.
On September 16, Firas Moussa Mohammad Khaddour, 17, was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers while allegedly committing a car ramming attack near the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, in Hebron. Just two hours later, Mohammad Thalji Kayid Thalji al-Rajaby, 15, was shot dead after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier at the Gilbert military checkpoint near the closed military zone of Tel Rumeida in Hebron’s Old City.
Earlier this month, on September 9, Israeli soldiers stationed across the border between Gaza and Israel fatally shot Abdul-Rahman Ahmad Dabbagh, 15. Though witnesses claimed live ammunition was used to disperse crowds protesting at the border, the Israeli army stated that they only used tear gas to contain the protest. DCIP is still investigating the circumstances surrounding Abdul-Rahman’s death.
According to DCIP figures, 52 Palestinian children from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been killed since October 5, 2015, all except four at the hands of Israeli forces. Of those, 42 were accused of attempting to commit some form of an attack.
In several cases, DCIP found that children did not pose a direct, mortal threat at the time they were killed, suggesting that Israeli forces are implementing a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy. Israel routinely defends or denies using lethal force against children and accountability is extremely rare.
Only one incident, the fatal shooting of Nadeem Nawara, 17, by an Israeli border policeman in May 2014, has resulted in an indictment. The trial of the accused border policeman is currently ongoing.
“It is troubling that Israeli forces consider live ammunition a proportionate response to stone-throwing,”said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “International law dictates that lethal force should be a last resort and that alleged offenders are apprehended and afforded due process. This policy demonstrates a disregard for the law and human life.”