Ramallah, October 31, 2023—Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian boys in the occupied West Bank in the last 24 hours.
Mohammad Abdulqader Jabr Kharaz, 14, was shot twice by Israeli forces around 4 p.m. on October 30 near the entrance to the Palestinian village of Zawata, west of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Mohammad was allegedly throwing stones at Israeli forces deployed 100 to 150 meters (328 to 492 feet) away when he was shot, after Israeli soldiers had just opened fire on a Palestinian vehicle driving on the road to Nablus. A Palestinian ambulance transferred Mohammad to the Arab Specialized Hospital in Nablus, where he entered the intensive care unit until he was pronounced dead around 9:30 a.m. on October 31. Mohammad sustained two gunshot wounds to the pelvis and right leg, according to information collected by DCIP.
Adam Naser Mahmoud Abulhawa, 17, was fatally shot by Israeli forces around 11:30 a.m. on October 30 after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier in the Al-Musrara neighborhood in East Jerusalem, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Around 2 p.m., Israeli forces searched Adam’s family’s home, damaged their furniture, tore up documents including their identification cards and passports, then arrested Adam’s parents and all of his siblings. His family members remained in detention until 10 p.m. that night, when they were all released. Adam’s parents were summoned again for interrogation around 8:30 a.m. on October 31 and were released at 12:30 p.m. Israeli authorities confiscated Adam’s body and have not released it to his family to be buried.
“Undoubtedly Palestinian children are targets as the situation in the occupied West Bank continues to deteriorate with Israeli forces and settlers empowered to use intentional lethal force against anyone they deem a threat, whether justified or not,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “International complicity in grave violations of human rights and war crimes have never been so clear as Palestinian children are killed with little protest from any world leaders.”
Israeli forces have escalated military operations throughout the occupied West Bank in recent weeks, carrying out increasing numbers of search and arrest operations.
38 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to documentation collected by DCIP, when the Israeli military began a full-scale bombardment on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords.
So far this year, Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 78 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 68 Palestinian children with live ammunition, six Palestinian children were killed in a drone strike, and four Palestinian children were killed by missiles fired from a U.S.-sourced Apache attack helicopter.
At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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 forces have withheld the bodies of at least 20 Palestinian children since June 2016, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Three of the children’s bodies have since been released to their families, while 17 Palestinian children’s bodies remain withheld by Israeli authorities.
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.