Ramallah, December 27, 2023—Israeli forces killed two Palestinian boys using a drone-fired missile early this morning in the northwestern occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces killed Hamza Ahmad Mostafa Hmaid, 16, and Ahmad Abdulrahman Issa Saleh, 17, using a drone-fired missile around 2 a.m. on December 27 during a military incursion into Nour Shams refugee camp, located east of the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Hamza and Ahmad both sustained injuries to their head and chest from missile fragments. Ambulances attempted to access the location of the strike in the Al-Mahjar neighborhood, but Israeli forces blocked access for about one hour, searching the ambulances. Hamza and Ahmad were eventually transferred to Thabet Thabet Governmental Hospital in Tulkarem where they were pronounced dead on arrival.
“Israeli forces are shouting to the world through their actions that Palestinian children are undoubtedly targets,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “The international communities’ complete failure to act in any meaningful way to protect Palestinian children does nothing more than empower Israeli forces to increasingly target Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Israeli forces accompanied by military bulldozers and aircraft entered Nour Shams refugee camp around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday and began destroying parts of the Al-Baraem Kindergarten, a three-story building, and civil infrastructure leading to power outages. Armed Palestinians confronted Israeli forces during the military incursion and a group of Palestinian youth threw homemade explosives. Hamza and Ahmad were targeted in the location where Palestinian youth had previously thrown homemade explosives, but they were not part of the group, according to information collected by DCIP. Israeli forces withdrew around 7 a.m.
79 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.
So far this year, Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 119 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 100 Palestinian children with live ammunition, 14 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.