Ramallah, November 4, 2023—Israeli forces apprehended and shot a 17-year-old Palestinian boy in the northern occupied West Bank yesterday, and his whereabouts and condition is unknown.
Hamza Zaied Abed Sawafta, 17, was shot by Israeli forces around 2:30 p.m. on November 3, at Israel’s Tayasir military checkpoint, east of the Palestinian city of Tubas, in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Hamza was driving an unregistered car and when near the military checkpoint, he did not line up in the vehicle queue prompting Israeli forces to yell and shoot at Hamza’s vehicle. Israeli soldiers demanded that he get out of the vehicle, put his hands above his head, and sit on the ground. Hamza complied with the demands but Israeli forces opened fire at him from less than 20 meters (65 feet). Eyewitnesses asserted that Hamza was killed but Hamza’s family has received no confirmation from Israeli authorities.
“Israeli forces are escalating military attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, routinely resorting to intentional lethal force in circumstances not justified by international law,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “The failure of Israeli authorities to communicate whether Hamza is dead or alive to his parents through the Palestinian liaison is a new low beyond the Israeli authorities’ unlawful practice of withholding bodies.”
Hamza’s father saw images in Israeli media reportedly depicting Hamza lying on the ground, prompting him to try to obtain information on the fate of Hamza from the Palestinian liaison office. A Palestinian liaison official informed Hamza’s father that Israeli authorities had not responded to their inquiry and had no information to share about Hamza’s fate or condition.
Hamza was driving east from Tubas to his home in the nearby village of Bardala when he was shot at the military checkpoint, according to information collected by DCIP.
Israeli forces killed two Palestinian boys in the occupied West Bank on November 3. Yamen Mahmoud Nabil Jarrar, 16, was killed by Israeli forces using a drone-fired missile around 4:30 a.m., west of Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank, and Mohammad Wael Ata Al-Jabari, 17, was shot in the chest by Israeli forces around 1:30 p.m. in the Bir al-Hummus area of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces have escalated military operations throughout the occupied West Bank in recent weeks, carrying out increasing numbers of search and arrest operations.
43 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to documentation collected by DCIP, when the Israeli military began a full-scale bombardment on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords.
So far this year, Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 83 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 72 Palestinian children with live ammunition, seven Palestinian children were killed in drone strikes, and four Palestinian children were killed by missiles fired from a U.S.-sourced Apache attack helicopter.
At least 135 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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.