Israeli forces shoot, paralyze Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank

Mar 20, 2024
Israeli forces shot and paralyzed Amr Mohammad Kahlil Sweidan, 17, left, and Kareem Shadi Hani Sharaab, eight, right, in the northern occupied West Bank. (Photos: Courtesy of the Sweidan and Sharaab families)

Ramallah, March 20, 2024—Two children have been shot by Israeli forces and left paralyzed in the northern occupied West Bank. 

17-year-old Amr Sweidan was shot in the neck by Israeli forces on February 13 in Azzoun, a Palestinian town near Qalqilya in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. An Israeli military vehicle rammed into Amr and another young man while they were riding an electric bike, knocking them to the ground. The young man fled, while an Israeli soldier struck Amr with the vehicle’s door when he tried to stand up. Then, an Israeli soldier in the front passenger seat of the vehicle shot Amr from point-blank range while he was on the ground. Amr bled on the ground for about five minutes as an Israeli soldier placed his hand on his wound and told him, “Die, die!”

Amr was first taken to the Azzoun Governmental Hospital, and then transferred to the Darwish Nazal Governmental Hospital in the city of Qalqilya. The bullet entered from the right side of the neck and exited from the left, resulting in fractures in the cervical vertebrae and spinal cord damage, leading to quadriplegia, in which all four of his limbs are paralyzed.

“Israeli forces routinely show complete disregard, and often contempt, for Palestinian children’s lives and safety,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “In a hypermilitarized environment where systemic impunity is the norm, children will increasingly be targets and live with lifelong disabilities caused by Israeli forces.”

A second Palestinian child was shot in the neck by Israeli forces in December.

Kareem Sharaab, eight, was shot in the neck by Israeli forces during a military incursion into the Palestinian village of Awarta, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, on December 2, 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

Kareem was standing with some of his relatives near his family's house at around 6 p.m., while Israeli forces were stationed about 15 meters (49 feet) away. During that time, a soldier came out from a military vehicle and fired a bullet at Kareem, striking him in the neck.

Kareem was transported by a private vehicle to the city of Nablus, accompanied by his grandfather. At the military checkpoint set up by the Israeli forces on the road towards Nablus, known as the "Awarta checkpoint," Kareem’s grandfather got out of the car carrying his injured grandson and attempted to walk towards the soldiers to pass through the traffic jam caused by the checkpoint. However, the soldiers refused to allow him to pass and asked him to place the child on the ground. He refused to comply and continued walking until an ambulance met him on the other side of the checkpoint.

Kareem arrived at Rafidia Hospital in critical condition, where doctors resuscitated him and conducted several emergency surgeries. The injury paralyzed his legs and damaged the nerves in his left hand. In addition, his lung was struck by a bullet fragment, causing difficulty in breathing.

Kareem was then transferred to the Khalil Abu Raya Center in Ramallah for physical therapy sessions, and there has been improvement in his left hand.

Israeli forces deliberately target Palestinian civilians, including children, from close range and aim for the upper parts of the body, with the purpose of killing them or causing permanent disabilities, exploiting the impunity given to the occupation. Israeli forces have caused permanent disabilities by critically injuring at least 11 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank since January 2022, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

News | Fatalities and Injuries
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