Israeli forces kill 17-year-old Palestinian boy, allege attempted stabbing

Jan 26, 2021
Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan, 17, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on January 26, 2021. (Photo: Courtesy of Rayan family)

Ramallah, January 26, 2021—Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian boy Tuesday afternoon in the northern occupied West Bank after the teen allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier nearby.

Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan, 17, from Qarawat Bani Hassan, a town located southwest of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, was shot dead by Israeli forces around noon at the Hares Junction near the illegal Israeli settlements, Revava and Barqan, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces shot Attallah after he allegedly carried a knife and attempted to attack an Israeli soldier stationed at the junction, according to Israeli army radio. 

“Israeli forces frequently resort to lethal force in circumstances not justified by international law,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program Director at DCIP. “Children suspected of committing criminal acts should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.”

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.

Attallah is the first Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in 2021. In 2020, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, six of whom were killed with live ammunition, according to documentation collected by DCIP. 

Israeli forces killed 17-year-old Mahmoud Omar Sadeq Kmail on December 22, after he allegedly shot at Israeli paramilitary border police forces deployed in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. On December 4, Israeli forces shot and killed 15-year-old Ali Ayman Saleh Abu Alia in Al-Mughayyir, a village northeast of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Ali did not present any threat to Israeli forces at the time he was killed, according to documentation collected by DCIP. The Israeli military has reportedly opened an investigation into Ali’s killing following international condemnation of the killing.

Israeli forces are rarely held accountable for grave violations against Palestinian children, including unlawful killings and excessive use of force. According to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, around 80 percent of complaints filed with Israeli authorities by Palestinians for alleged violations and harm by Israeli soldiers between 2017 and 2018 were closed with no criminal investigation opened. Of complaints where a criminal investigation was opened, only three incidents (3.2 percent) resulted in indictments. Overall, the chances that a complaint leads to an indictment of an Israeli soldier for violence, including killing, or other harm is 0.7 percent, according to Yesh Din.

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