Ramallah, August 22, 2023—Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian boy in the northern occupied West Bank early this morning.
Othman Atef Mohammad Abu Khurj, 17, was shot in the back of the head and left arm by Israeli forces during an early morning Israeli military incursion into the Palestinian town of Al-Zababdeh on August 22, south of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Israeli forces entered Al-Zababdeh around 5:30 a.m. and surrounded the home of a Palestinian man wanted for arrest. Young Palestinians, including Othman, confronted Israeli forces. Othman allegedly threw a homemade explosive device toward Israeli soldiers from a distance of 120-150 meters (394 to 492 feet). When Othman ran away, an Israeli soldier shot three bullets at him from behind, striking him twice, in the back of the skull and his left arm. Othman was transported to Al-Razi Hospital in Jenin, where doctors pronounced him dead around 7:30 a.m.
Earlier this year, Israeli forces detained Othman for ten days beginning January 9, 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Othman was interrogated, denied access to a lawyer, and transferred to Al-Jalame interrogation and detention center in northern Israel while handcuffed and blindfolded, where Israeli forces isolated him in solitary confinement for two days.
“Israeli forces systematically target Palestinian children like Othman in violation of international law,” 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. Instead, Israeli forces shot Othman in the back of the head as he was running away.”
The bullet that struck Othman’s head shattered his skull and exposed brain matter, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
42 Palestinian children have been killed in 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers have shot and killed at least 34 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.