Israeli forces shoot dead 16-year-old Palestinian boy protesting settlements

Jul 21, 2023
16-year-old Mohammad Fuad Atta Al-Bayed was shot and killed by Israeli forces on July 21, 2023, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. (Photo: Courtesy of the Al-Bayed family)

Ramallah, July 21, 2023–Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy this afternoon in the occupied West Bank. 

Mohammad Fuad Atta Al-Bayed, 16, was struck in the head by live ammunition fired by an Israeli soldier around 4 p.m. on July 21 in the Palestinian village of Umm Safa, 12 kilometers (about seven miles) north of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Mohammad was participating in a weekly demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion alongside other residents of Umm Safa when Israeli forces began firing live ammunition, tear gas canisters, and sound grenades at Palestinians. Mohammad was struck in the head while he was standing near the village council building in the center of Umm Safa with other Palestinian boys. He was transferred to Istishari Hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead around 4:50 p.m.

“Palestinian children live in a hyper-militarized context where the Israeli military's incursions into Palestinian communities to arrest and intimidate Palestinian civilians is the norm,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “It is clear that Israeli forces feel confident in their ability to shoot and kill Palestinians, including children, with complete impunity.”

Umm Safa is surrounded by Jewish-only Israeli settlements encroaching on Palestinian land. Its residents hold a weekly demonstration after Friday prayer to protest the expansion of Israeli settlements.

Umm Safa is a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank surrounded by Jewish-only Israeli settlements, represented in blue. (Map: Btselem)

Israel has an obligation as the “Occupying Power” under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population living under Israeli military occupation. However, DCIP documentation shows that Israeli forces frequently fail to intervene to stop or prevent Israeli settler attacks. 

Settler attacks usually entail groups of Israeli men throwing stones at Palestinians, often including children, or vandalizing property, such as homes, cars, churches, mosques and schools. Beatings and shootings, resulting in injuries and occasionally fatalities, are also regular occurrences, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

Israel’s Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank amount to a war crime as transferring civilians into the Occupied Palestinian Territory violates international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

Despite living in the same territory, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, while Israeli settlers living illegally in permanent, Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land are subject to the Israeli civilian legal system.

36 Palestinian children have been killed in 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces have shot and killed at least 28 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.

DCIP previously reported that Mustafa Imad Ali Qassem, 16, was killed by an Israeli airstrike on July 3 in Jenin refugee camp. Mustafa was first shot and killed by an Israeli sniper before his body was struck by an Israeli airstrike, according to further evidence 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.

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.

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