Israeli settlers shoot, kill 17-year-old Palestinian boy in the occupied West Bank

Apr 14, 2024
17-year-old Omar Ahmad Abdulghani Hamed was shot and killed by Israeli settlers on April 13. (Photo: Courtesy of the Hamed family)

Ramallah, April 14, 2024— A 17-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in the occupied West Bank yesterday as Israeli settlers fired on Palestinians.

Omar Ahmad Abdulghani Hamed, 17, was shot in the head around 8:50 p.m. on April 13 in the Palestinian village of Beitin, northeast of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. At least 30 armed Israeli settlers from the nearby Beit El settlement, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, entered the village of Beitin and attacked a Palestinian family’s home. Palestinian residents confronted the group of Israeli settlers, who fired live ammunition indiscriminately at Palestinians. A bullet struck Omar in the forehead and exited from the back. He was transported in a private vehicle which brought him to a Palestinian ambulance that was on its way to the village. He was transferred to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead around 9:15 p.m. 

“Palestinian children live in a hyper-militarized context where Israeli civilians illegally settled in occupied territory are armed by the Israeli government as a matter of official policy,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Israeli soldiers, police, and private security staff not only protect Israeli settler populations, but they also aid, abet, and perpetrate unlawful killings of Palestinians, including children.”

Under the protection of Israeli forces, groups of Israeli settlers have been entering and attacking Palestinian villages in Nablus and Ramallah governorates since Friday, April 12, blocking the entrances of many villages, damaging several homes, vehicles and personal belongings, injuring many Palestinians, and killing a Palestinian adult in the village of Al-Mughayyir, according to Al Jazeera.

Israeli forces and settlers have killed 35 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank in 2024, including two United States citizens, according to documentation collected by DCIP. 116 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 military offensive on the Gaza Strip.

In 2023, Israeli forces and settlers killed at least 121 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 103 Palestinian children with live ammunition, 13 Palestinian children were killed in drone strikes, four Palestinian children were killed by missiles fired from a U.S.-sourced Apache attack helicopter, and one child was killed in an Israeli warplane airstrike.

Israel has an obligation as the “Occupying Power” under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population living under Israeli military occupation. However, DCIP documentation shows that Israeli forces frequently fail to intervene to stop or prevent Israeli settler attacks. 

Settler attacks usually entail groups of Israeli men throwing stones at Palestinians, often including children, or vandalizing property, such as homes, cars, churches, mosques and schools. Beatings and shootings, resulting in injuries and occasionally fatalities, are also regular occurrences, according to documentation collected by DCIP. 

While they are civilians, Israeli settlers are issued firearms by the Israeli government and many subscribe to ultra-nationalistic beliefs that manifest in extreme violence towards Palestinians, including children. Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians are motivated by the drive to dispossess Palestinians of their land, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

Impunity is rampant for Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, 91 percent of investigations into ideological crimes against Palestinians are closed with no indictments filed. 

Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israeli authorities have established more than 200 Jewish-only settlements that house around 700,000 Israeli citizens, according to the Times of Israel. 

Israel’s Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank amount to a war crime as transferring civilians into the Occupied Palestinian Territory violates international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

Despite living in the same territory, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, while Israeli settlers living illegally in permanent, Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land are subject to the Israeli civilian legal system.

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