Ramallah, February 12, 2024—Israeli forces shot a Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem last night and confiscated his body today.
Mohammad Tariq Salim Abu Sneineh, 15, was shot by Israeli paramilitary border police officers around 9 p.m. on February 11 near Al-Wad Street in the old city of Jerusalem, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Mohammad allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack when Israeli forces shot him several times from around 10 meters (33 feet) away. An Israeli ambulance arrived and treated a lightly injured Israeli settler while Mohammad bled out on the ground for about 10 minutes without receiving first aid. Mohammad’s body was transported by an Israeli ambulance to an unknown location and remains withheld.
“Mohammad 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 10:30 p.m., Israeli intelligence officers called Mohammad’s father and summoned him for interrogation at the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. He was released after about four hours without learning what happened to Mohammad.
Early morning today, Mohammad’s parents were still unsure if he was dead or alive and worked to figure out what they could but ultimately received conflicting information. First, they heard their son was at Haddasah Hospital in Al-Issawiya in East Jerusalem and that a trial was scheduled for him in absentia in Ofer military court. However, later in the day Israeli police informed Mohammad’s father that he had indeed been killed.
Israeli police called Mohammad’s father today, summoning him to Qalandia military checkpoint located between Jerusalem and Ramallah. There, Israeli forces transported him to Al-Mascobiya interrogation center, where an Israeli police officer informed him that Mohammad was killed. They showed photos of Mohammad, which confirmed Mohammad sustained several bullet wounds to his forehead and face. Israeli forces informed Mohammad’s father they were confiscating Mohammad’s body and that he must pursue the matter in court with the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
99 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 18 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank in 2024, including two United States citizens, 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 31 Palestinian children since June 2016, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Four of the children’s bodies have since been released to their families, while 27 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.