Ramallah, May 16, 2022—Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in the central occupied West Bank last week.
Thaer Khalil Mohammad Maslat, 16, was shot with live ammunition in the chest by Israeli forces around 10 a.m. on May 11 in the occupied West Bank city of Al-Bireh, just west of Ramallah, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Israeli forces shot Thaer as he watched confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth nearby, according to an eyewitness. Thaer was transferred to Ramallah Hospital in a private car and pronounced dead around 10:45 a.m, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
“Israeli forces routinely unlawfully kill Palestinian children with impunity, using excessive force and unjustified intentional lethal force,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Palestinian children should be able to safely attend school without fear of violence at the hands of Israeli forces. Instead, Israeli forces regularly deploy in or near schools, attacking Palestinian children and putting education under attack.”
Thaer left Al-Hashimiya Boys Secondary School located in the Jabal Al-Tawil neighborhood of Al-Bireh after his second class due to a teachers’ strike. He and a friend approached an area about 200 meters (656 feet) away from the school where the confrontations were taking place. A group of at least 12 Israeli soldiers were deployed nearby. Thaer arrived and stood next to a building watching the confrontations when an Israeli soldier shot him in the chest with live ammunition, according to an eyewitness. Thaer did not pose any threat to Israeli forces when he was shot, according to information 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.
Thaer is the tenth Palestinian child shot and killed by Israeli forces in 2022, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
On May 8, 17-year-old Motasem Mohammad Taleb Atallah was shot and killed inside the Jewish-only Tekoa settlement located near the central occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Motasem was killed by a single bullet to the left eye, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
After an argument with his father around 7 p.m. on May 8, Motasem left home and went toward the Tekoa settlement, according to documentation collected by DCIP. His parents drove around searching for him and received a phone call around 8 p.m. from an Israeli intelligence officer instructing Motasem’s father to go to the entrance of the settlement, according to information collected by DCIP.
After arriving at Tekoa, an Israeli soldier informed Motasem’s father that he had been shot and killed after entering the settlement with a knife. DCIP has been unable to confirm the specific circumstances of Motasem’s killing, including whether he was shot by an Israeli soldier, private security contractor, or an Israeli settler.
Israeli authorities confiscated Motasem’s body and are withholding it from his family, according to information collected by DCIP.
Shawkat Kamal Shawkat Abed, 17, succumbed to his injuries on April 15 after Israeli forces shot him in the abdomen near Jenin. Israeli forces shot and killed Qusai Fuad Mohammad Hamamra, 16, in Husan, near Bethlehem on April 13. Mohammad Hussein Mohammad Qassim succumbed to his wounds on April 11, a day after Israeli forces shot him in Jenin. Israeli forces shot and killed Sanad Mohammad Khalil Abu Atiya on March 31 in Jenin as he approached a wounded man in an attempt to render aid. Nader Haitham Fathi Rayyan, 16, was killed by Israeli forces outside the entrance of Balata refugee camp located southeast of Nablus on March 15.
Israeli forces shot and killed Yamen Nafez Mahmoud Khanafseh in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem on March 6. Israeli forces shot and killed 13-year-old Mohammad Rezq Shehadeh Salah on February 22 in Al-Khader, southwest of Bethlehem. An Israeli sniper shot and killed 16-year-old Mohammad Akram Ali Taher Abu Salah with live ammunition on February 13 while Israeli forces deployed in the village of Silat Al-Harithiya near Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014. Israeli forces and armed civilians killed 78 Palestinian children, according evidence collected by DCIP.
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.