Ramallah, May 31 2017—Israeli forces for the second time this month shot and killed a Palestinian teen following an alleged stabbing attempt, raising renewed concerns over Israel’s use of lethal force against children.
Israeli forces opened fire on Raed Ahmed Issa al-Radaideh, 15, around 4:00 p.m. on May 22 after he allegedly attempted to stab forces stationed at the Container checkpoint, located near the child’s Bethlehem-area hometown of Al-Ubeidiya in the West Bank. Israeli forces prevented Palestinian Red Crescent medics from reaching Raed, who was left bleeding near the side of the checkpoint for approximately 40 minutes, according to local media.
“We do not know what actually happened before the soldiers fired at [Raed] in this way and left him on the ground,” the boy’s father, Ahmed Issa Abdel al-Radaideh, told Defense for Children International - Palestine. “Raed was my friend. Raed was wonderful and popular. Everybody loved him.”
Al-Radaideh told DCIP he was not notified that his son had been killed until he called Palestinian police nearly seven hours after the 15-year-old’s death.
Al-Radaideh also said his son’s body was withheld by Israeli authorities until May 26. The following day, Raed’s body underwent an autopsy. Although the full autopsy has yet to be released to DCIP, the family reported apparent wounds to Raed’s head, chest and feet.
When Raed was shot, an Israeli police spokesperson stated that the boy approached Israeli border police while carrying a knife in his hand with the intention to stab the forces. After what the spokesperson termed a “short dispute,” an officer opened fire on the boy and seized the knife. No Israeli forces were injured.
The 15-year-old is the eighth Palestinian child to be killed by Israeli forces this year, according to DCIP documentation, two of whom were accused of attempting to commit or committing stabbing attacks.
International law mandates that intentional lethal force only be used as a last resort, where a direct threat to life or serious injury exists, and that suspected perpetrators be afforded due process.
However, in several cases DCIP found that children did not pose a direct, mortal threat at the time they were killed, suggesting that Israeli forces are implementing a “shoot-to-kill” policy that may amount to extrajudicial killing.
Israel routinely defends or denies using lethal force against children and accountability is extremely rare.
Earlier this month, 16-year-old Fatima Houjayji was fatally shot after brandishing a knife in an alleged attempt to stab Israeli forces. Two Palestinian boys were also fatally shot after the Israeli military alleged they were throwing explosives at Beit El settlement in the central West Bank. DCIP research showed the circumstances surrounding the deaths warranted impartial investigation to determine if the killings were lawful.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated last year that Israel’s responses to attacks by Palestinians against Israelis “strongly suggest unlawful killings, including possible extrajudicial executions.”
Last year was the deadliest in a decade for Palestinian children in the West Bank, with Israeli forces and guards killing 32 children. While 24 of those killed were accused of committing an attack, DCIP evidence and Israeli internal investigations in several cases determined the child did not pose a direct mortal threat at the time they were killed.