Ramallah, August 14, 2017—A Palestinian boy from the northern West Bank village of Jayyus, near Qalqilya, goes from a bystander to a multiple gunshot victim, under arrest, with an attempt to recruit him.
Mahmoud Qaddumi, 13, told Defense for Children International – Palestine that he spotted some children burning a tire near Israel’s separation barrier while out on his family’s private land in the middle of the afternoon on July 23. He stepped back a little bit certain their actions will invite some trouble. Shortly after, Israeli paramilitary border police arrived on the other side of the separation barrier, and the children fled the scene.
“I stayed in the land because I did not do anything,” Mahmoud told DCIP. “One of the border policemen saw me and ordered me to stop, so I stopped and did not move at all. I was a short distance from them, but one of them shot me in the right leg with a live bullet.”
“I tried to run, but I could not because of the injury. He shot me again but this time in my left leg. I fell to the ground, and he fired another bullet, but it hit the ground and scattered into fragments. One of the pieces hit my right leg, and another one hit my shoulder.”
Israeli forces then detained Mahmoud, who required hospitalization for gunshot wounds and extensive blood loss. While still hospitalized, Mahmoud underwent interrogation without the presence of a lawyer or family member, during which the interrogator offered him inducements to become a child informant.
“DCIP calls into question the purpose of the force used against an unarmed 13-year-old child who did not pose any threat before being shot,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP, said. “Mahmoud Qaddumi’s case demonstrates how Palestinian children are exposed to a broad and perilous mix of risks, ranging from live bullets to deprivation of liberty and coercive interrogations, each time they step outside their homes.”
While Israeli forces were detaining Mahmoud, his parents arrived, but were threatened at gunpoint to leave. Border police crossed the barrier and wrapped his legs, but he continued to bleed profusely. The officers placed him on a stretcher in a military vehicle and transferred him to an ambulance. He arrived at Meir Hospital inside Israel around 45 minutes after he had sustained the gunshot wounds.
Admitted in critical condition due to severe blood loss, Mahmoud woke up the following day in the hospital’s intensive care unit and under the guard of two Israeli police officers. He remained under guard until July 31, during which the officers verbally abused Mahmoud and denied him family visitation.
Around 8 a.m. on July 27, while still hospitalized between surgeries, Mahmoud told DCIP that a police investigator questioned him while he was still in his hospital bed. The police interrogator did not inform him of his rights, and no lawyer or family member was present. He accused Mahmoud of throwing stones and shouted at him, calling him a liar. Mahmoud denied all accusations, but signed a statement in Hebrew without understanding it.
The interrogator then offered him 200 shekels (US$56) and a mobile phone, Mahmoud said, asking him to report information on children who throw stones in his village. Mahmoud refused.
“‘This phone is yours. The money too. But when you go home, I want you to stand for a while with the children who throw stones and breach security and public order, then call and tell us about them, so we could have them arrested,’ he [the interrogator] said,” Mahmoud told DCIP.
The same day, Israeli police asked Salem military court to extend Mahmoud’s detention in absentia. The judge rejected the request and the court released him on 4,000 shekel (US$1,115) bail and 5,000 shekel (US$1,395) third-party guarantee. He remained in the hospital for treatment.
Mahmoud is among the 500 to 700 Palestinian children detained and prosecuted by the Israeli military court system each year. DCIP documentation has shown that children experience high levels of abuse during and after arrest, with the majority interrogated in the absence of a lawyer or family member, leaving them susceptible to coercion or recruitment as informants.
Child recruitment refers to the practice by armed forces or armed groups of recruiting or using any person below 18 years of age, in any capacity. The use of children in armed conflict is prohibited under customary international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and punishable as a war crime under international criminal law.
Mahmoud’s case also marks a longstanding pattern of excessive force used against Palestinian children. Israeli forces killed two children in July, 16-year-old Abdel-Rahman Hamisa and 17-year-old Mohammad Lafi. Force used against them likely violated international law, as neither child posed a direct, imminent threat at the time they were shot dead.
According to international human rights law, use of force that does not seek to achieve a lawful law enforcement purpose or that contains elements of inappropriateness, injustice or lack of predictability under the circumstances is defined as arbitrary.