Ramallah, June 17, 2021—Israeli forces shot a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the northern occupied West Bank yesterday, and he succumbed to his wounds early today.
Israeli forces shot Ahmad Zahi Ibrahim Bani-Shamsa, 15, in the head with live ammunition around 5:30 p.m. on June 16 in Beita, a village located southeast of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Ahmad did not present any threat to Israeli forces at the time he was shot, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. He was transferred to Rafidia hospital in Nablus and succumbed to his wounds around 3 a.m. this morning.
“Israeli forces routinely fire live ammunition killing Palestinian children with impunity in situations where intentional lethal forces is not justified,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Palestinian children are undoubtedly targets, and systemic impunity, provided in part by the international community’s lack of political will to hold Israeli officials accountable, guarantees that Israeli soldiers will continue to unlawfully kill Palestinian children.”
On Wednesday around 4 p.m., Ahmad and his friend Mahmoud H., 16, went to a hilltop on the outskirts of Beita to set some tires on fire, according to information collected by DCIP. Israeli forces were deployed about 300 meters (984 feet) away from them.
Around 5 p.m., the boys moved closer to an Israeli soldier and began chanting on a megaphone about their friend 16-year-old Mohammad Said Mohammad Hamayel, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in Beita on June 11. When the boys began chanting, the Israeli soldier fired a single live bullet, and the boys tried to hide and take cover, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
The boys then returned to the area around 5:30 p.m., and the same Israeli soldier assumed a kneeling sniping position. The boys were standing approximately 100 meters (328 feet) away when the Israeli soldier fired approximately 10 bullets. Ahmad fell to the ground as the first 5 bullets were shot, according to DCIP’s documentation.
A bullet entered the right side of Mohammad’s head and exited from the top of the left side, according to documentation collected by DCIP. When Mahmoud saw that Ahmad had been shot in the head, he attempted to approach him to carry him from the area, but the Israeli soldier opened fire again, preventing Mahmoud from reaching Ahmad. A few minutes later, another Palestinian resident of Beita arrived, and the two carried Ahmad about 200 meters (656 feet) along an agricultural path until they reached a private car, according to documentation gathered by DCIP.
The private car drove about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) to Beita, where Ahmad was placed in an ambulance and transferred to Rafidia hospital in Nablus. Ahmad was placed in the ICU and pronounced dead around 3 a.m. on June 17, according to information gathered by DCIP.
Since 2013, Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 169 Palestinian children with live ammunition and crowd-control weapons in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
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.
Ahmad is the ninth child from the occupied West Bank shot and killed by Israeli forces this year. Last week, DCIP documented the killing of 16-year-old Mohammad Said Mohammad Hamayel. Mohammad was killed on June 11 when an Israeli soldier shot him with live ammunition in the chest.
On May 5, Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Said Yousef Mohammad Odeh in Odala, a neighboring village about one mile north of Beita. Israeli forces reportedly confronted Palestinian youth at the village entrance prior to Said’s shooting. Said did not pose any threat to Israeli forces at the time he was shot, according to information collected by DCIP.
In the last month, Israeli settlers have established a new illegal outpost, Evyatar, on lands belonging to Beita and two other Palestinian villages, Qabalan and Yatma, Haaretz reported last week. The outpost, which already has around 40 structures, was established on a hill that was the site of an Israeli army base in the 1980s, according to Haaretz. Israeli soldiers had participated in the construction of the outpost, Haaretz reported.
An outpost is an emerging illegal Israeli settlement initially established as small communities on hilltops throughout the West Bank, generally located nearby or in between larger permanent illegal settlements. They house a few families or several settler youths living in trailers and other temporary shelters with only basic infrastructure. Funding and support from private donors and the Israeli government help to construct roads and infrastructure and eventually transform the outpost into a permanent Jewish-only Israeli settlement.
Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in occupied territory is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and amounts to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.