Ramallah, April 4, 2017—Israeli forces killed one Palestinian child on March 23 and injured three others during unclear circumstances near a military watchtower on the illegal Israeli settlement of Bet El, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Contrary to local reports, Mohammad Khattab, from Al-Jalazun refugee camp, was not yet 18 when he died from multiple live ammunition wounds outside the adjacent Israeli settlement of Bet El. Defense for Children International - Palestine verified that three others injured in the same incident were children, including 15-year-old Jasem Nakhleh, a 17-year-old, and a third 15-year-old child. All three injured children are currently in comas.
"Stationed throughout the West Bank, Israeli forces protect settler populations at the expense of Palestinian civilians," said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. "In this hyper-militarized environment, the failure of Israeli authorities to hold perpetrators accountable for the unjustified use of intentional lethal force provides tacit approval for the routine targeting of Palestinian children."
On the day Mohammad was shot, Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesperson, tweeted that Mohammad had attacked an Israeli falafel shop in Bet El settlement with firebombs. He wrote that Mohammad fled the scene after being shot and died from his wounds.
Local sources, however, contested the Israeli military’s description of events. Under the condition of anonymity, a witness told DCIP that Mohammad was shot when he got out of his stalled car near Bet El settlement, to push it. The witness said Mohammad jumped back into the car to try to escape, but the car did not start. Israeli soldiers then approached the car and opened fire on the four children while inside the car, according to DCIP’s source.
International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable where there is a threat to life or serious injury. Where individuals allegedly carry out a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.
Israeli forces routinely employ the use of excessive force and intentional lethal force in situations not justified by international norms, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
The four children were transported to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. There, Mohammad was declared dead from gunshot wounds. The coroner confirmed that Mohammad had been struck by one bullet on the back of his right shoulder, which exited from his chest, and a second bullet on his left side.
Dr. Samir Saliba, director of the Emergency Department at the Palestine Medical Complex, told DCIP that the three injured children had all been treated for bullet or shrapnel injuries to their upper bodies, with two of them requiring respirators to breathe.
Since then, Jasem and the 17-year-old have been transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for further treatment, local media reported.
Violent clashes often erupt near Israeli military installments such as watchtowers and checkpoints, which often accompany Israel’s illegally erected settlements.
“The ongoing expansion of the Israeli settlement, Beit El, has served as a catalyst for intensified confrontations between camp residents and Israeli security forces (ISF). Clashes occur almost daily,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) states on the camp’s website.
Including Mohammad, Israeli forces have killed five Palestinian children since the start of the year, according to DCIP documentation. On March 17, Israeli forces fatally shot Murad Abu Ghazi, 17, near a military watchtower during clashes outside Arroub refugee camp in the southern West Bank.