Ramallah, August 31, 2023—Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem yesterday.
Khaled Samer Fadel Al-Zaanin, 14, was shot and killed by Israeli forces around 8 p.m. near the Al-Musrara neighborhood in Jerusalem, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Khaled allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack in a light rail station before he was knocked to the ground and disarmed by a bystander. An Israeli paramilitary border police officer reportedly shot and killed him as he lay on the ground. Israeli authorities confiscated Khaled’s body and are withholding it from his family.
“Israeli forces routinely carry out extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, including children,” 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, not executed on the spot after they no longer pose any threat.”
A man at the scene reportedly ran towards Khaled, kicked him in the face and knocked away a knife before an Israeli paramilitary border police officer arrived and shot him dead, according to a news media report.
Video footage taken by a bystander immediately after Khaled was shot show him laying on the ground with his hands up while Israeli forces continue pointing a gun at him.
Footage from moments after the Palestinian stabber was shot. pic.twitter.com/8zq2mM9pl6— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) August 30, 2023
Khaled planned to take the light rail train home from the city center and meet his father at the last train station so they could go home together, Khaled’s father told DCIP.
Israeli media sources alleged that Khaled attempted to carry out a stabbing attack before Israeli forces shot and killed him, allegations that remain unconfirmed, according to information collected by DCIP.
After Israeli forces shot and killed Khaled, they surrounded his family’s home in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem and forcefully entered the home to conduct a search. Around 11 p.m. Israeli forces detained Khaled’s father, mother, sister, and twin brother and transferred them to Mascobiya detention and interrogation center. Each member of the family was interrogated separately and later released after the interrogations concluded.
Israeli forces have withheld the bodies of at least 18 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 15 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.
43 Palestinian children have been killed in 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers have shot and killed at least 35 Palestinian children and killed one Palestinian child with a targeted drone strike in the occupied West Bank. Six Palestinian children in Gaza were killed in the May 2023 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and a 10-year-old Palestinian child in Gaza succumbed to head wounds he sustained during the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip in August 2022.
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.
53 Palestinian children were killed in 2022, according to documentation collected by DCIP, including 36 Palestinian children shot and killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the occupied West Bank. DCIP documented the killing of 17 Palestinian children between August 5–7 after Israeli forces launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip.