Ramallah, November 17, 2023—Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy yesterday and confiscated his body.
Nasrallah Abdulafu Abdulfatah Qawasmeh, 17, was participating in an exchange of fire between several armed Palestinians and Israeli soldiers when Israeli forces shot and killed him around 10 a.m. on November 16 at the Israeli military checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the southern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Israeli authorities confiscated Nasrallah’s body.
“Israeli forces have escalated collective punishment against families of Palestinians alleged to have attacked Israeli forces and entire communities in the occupied West Bank,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Detaining and interrogating family members and destroying roads and electricity and water lines in refugee camps in response to attacks against Israeli forces in occupied territory constitutes a violation of international law.”
Two other armed Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces alongside Nasrallah. One Israeli soldier was killed and seven other sustained injuries.
After killing Nasrallah and two armed Palestinian adults, Israeli forces raided all three families’ homes and arrested a number of their family members. Israeli forces also closed a number of roads in the occupied West Bank, including roads leading to Hebron, and traffic on Route 60, which connects Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Hebron.
53 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 93 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 80 Palestinian children with live ammunition, nine 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 186 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.
Israeli forces have withheld the bodies of at least 22 Palestinian children since June 2016, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Three of the children’s bodies have since been released to their families, while 19 Palestinian children’s bodies remain withheld by Israeli authorities.
Israeli authorities’ practice of confiscating and withholding Palestinian bodies is a violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, which include absolute prohibitions on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, as well as stipulate that parties of an armed conflict must bury the deceased in an honorable way. For families, the practice amounts to collective punishment in violation of international humanitarian law.
In September 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the practice of confiscating human remains after several legal challenges to the policy. On November 27, 2019, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered all bodies of Palestinians alleged to have attacked Israeli citizens or soldiers to be withheld and not returned to their families. Israel is the only country in the world with such a policy of confiscating human remains, according to Adalah.