Ramallah, June 28, 2023–Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in the central occupied West Bank on June 24.
Ishaq Hamdi Amin Al-Ajlouni, 16, was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the early morning hours of June 24 near Israel’s military Qalandia checkpoint in the central occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Ishaq’s family learned of their son’s death around 10 a.m. on June 24, shortly before Israeli intelligence services summoned the family for interrogation. Ishaq’s father was interrogated for three hours and detained overnight, while Ishaq’s adult brother is still being held in Israeli custody. Israeli authorities confiscated Ishaq’s body and are withholding it from his family.
“Israel is the only country in the world with a policy of confiscating human remains,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Without releasing his body, there can be no independent autopsy to confirm how Ishaq was killed. Israeli forces routinely shoot to kill Palestinian children in violation of international law and so Ishaq’s killing must be independently investigated.”
Shots were reportedly fired at Qalandia checkpoint around 3 a.m. on June 24, and gunfire was exchanged for about an hour and a half, according to information collected by DCIP.
Israeli interrogators questioned Ishaq’s father about his son’s psychological state and his knowledge of his son’s alleged possession of a weapon, according to information collected by DCIP.
Ishaq’s mother learned about his killing from the news on television. His family is taking steps to claim Ishaq’s body so he can be buried.
31 Palestinian children have been killed in 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces have shot and killed 23 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.
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.
Israeli authorities’ practice of confiscating and withholding Palestinian bodies is a violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, which include absolute prohibitions on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, as well as stipulate that parties of an armed conflict must bury the deceased in an honorable way. For families, the practice amounts to collective punishment in violation of international humanitarian law.
In September 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the practice of confiscating human remains after several legal challenges to the policy. On November 27, 2019, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered all bodies of Palestinians alleged to have attacked Israeli citizens or soldiers to be withheld and not returned to their families. Israel is the only country in the world with such a policy of confiscating human remains, according to Adalah.
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.