Ramallah, January 12, 2018—Israeli forces opened fire, killing two Palestinian teenagers and seriously injuring a third, during clashes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on Thursday.
In the same incident, Israeli forces shot dead Amir Abdul Hamid Musaad, 15, and seriously injured Mahmoud Tawfiq al-Masri, 17, with live ammunition east of Bureij refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip. Also on Thursday, Israeli forces killed 17-year-old Ali Omar Nimer Qinu, shooting him in the head when clashes broke out in Iraq Burin village, south of the West Bank city of Nablus.
“The deaths of three children from Israeli forces’ bullets in a period of less than two weeks raise serious questions about heavy-handed tactics used in response to clashes,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International - Palestine.
“Once again, near-complete impunity for actions taken by Israeli forces has allowed lethal force to be used against children in circumstances not justified by international law.”
Amir was shot in the chest by Israeli forces around 4:30 p.m. on January 11, dying instantly, according to initial reports collected by DCIP. An eyewitness said that soldiers fired live ammunition from across the Israeli border fence at a group of around 20 protestors throwing stones toward the fence. In the same incident, Israeli forces shot Mahmoud in the abdomen, as well as shooting and injuring two Palestinian teenagers over the age of 18. Mahmoud is currently in critical condition.
Clashes with Israeli forces were also taking place near the southern entrance of Iraq Burin on Thursday afternoon in the northern part of the West Bank, eyewitnesses told DCIP. Soldiers were positioned on a side road near the village entrance when they fired shots from inside a military jeep at several youths standing on a hill, witnesses said.
Protestors fled the area and returned shortly after to find Ali on the ground bleeding from his head, a witness told DCIP. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Local news outlets reported the clashes initially broke out near an Israeli temporary checkpoint outside of the village. Israeli forces had implemented closures or temporary checkpoints at the entrances of many Nablus-area Palestinian villages during a search for gunmen responsible for killing an Israeli settler on Tuesday. The settler was shot to death while driving on Route 60, east of Nablus.
Amir and Ali were the second and third Palestinian children to be killed by Israeli forces since the start of the year. DCIP is further investigating the circumstances that led to both teenagers’ deaths.
An Israeli soldier last week shot 16-year-old Musab Tamimi in the neck with live ammunition during clashes in the Ramallah-area town of Deir Nitham. Witnesses told DCIP that the soldier shot Musab while holding a sniper position from around 70 meters (76 yards) away. The Israeli military alleged the teenager was carrying a weapon while eyewitnesses did not report a firearm in Musab’s possession and relatives told news outlets that no weapons were found on or near his body.
International law permits the use of lethal force only as a final resort, when an imminent mortal threat or threat of serious injury exists.
DCIP has repeatedly documented live ammunition fired by Israeli forces on Palestinian children, often in circumstances where the use of such force was unwarranted.
Since the start of December 2017, DCIP has also documented a spike in rights violations, including the misuse of live ammunition and crowd control weapons against Palestinian children accross the OPT. The majority of children were involved in stone throwing during confrontations with the Israeli military during protests of the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 226 Palestinian children were injured by Israeli forces during clashes between December 19, 2017 and January 1, 2018 in the West Bank, with Nablus city having the largest number of these child injuries. In Gaza, Israeli forces injured an additional 27 children in the same period, also during clashes, OCHA reported.