Ramallah, February 5, 2024—Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy east of Jerusalem earlier today.
Wadea Shadi Sa’d Elayan, 14, was shot by Israeli forces around 12:30 p.m. on February 5 near the illegal Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Wadea allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at the roundabout leading to Ma’ale Adumim when Israeli forces shot toward him. Wadea ran about five meters (16 feet) before falling to the ground, and an Israeli soldier shot at him again. Israeli forces confiscated Wadea’s body after killing him.
“Wadea grew up in a hypermilitarized environment where Israeli soldiers and settlers enact violence against Palestinians side by side,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Palestinian children cannot rest even in death as Israeli authorities continue confiscating children’s bodies and withholding them from their families indefinitely.”
Around 3:30 p.m., Israeli intelligence officers summoned Wadea’s father to an Israeli military checkpoint known as Rachel Dome north of Bethlehem. Israeli forces informed him that his son had been killed and did not allow him to see or identify Wadea’s body. His father was released from Israeli military custody while Wadea’s body remains withheld.
96 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 military offensive on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords.
Israeli forces and settlers have killed 15 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank in 2024, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
In 2023, Israeli forces and settlers killed at least 121 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 103 Palestinian children with live ammunition, 13 Palestinian children were killed in drone strikes, four Palestinian children were killed by missiles fired from a U.S.-sourced Apache attack helicopter, and one child was killed in an Israeli warplane airstrike.
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 28 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 25 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.