Ramallah, October 11, 2023—A 17-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in the northern occupied West Bank today as Israeli settlers and soldiers fired on Palestinians.
Obada Sa’ed Awad Abu Srour, 17, was shot in the back around 3 p.m. on October 11 in the Palestinian village of Qusra, southeast of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. At least seven armed Israeli settlers from the nearby Esh Kodesh settlement, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, entered the village of Qusra and attacked a Palestinian family’s home. Palestinians confronted the group of Israeli settlers and soldiers, who fired live ammunition indiscriminately at Palestinians. A bullet struck Obada in the back and exited his chest. He was transferred to Salfit Government Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. It is unclear whether the fatal bullet was fired by an Israeli settler or soldier.
“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.”
At least three Palestinians, including Obada, were killed by Israeli settlers and soldiers during the attack on Qusra. An additional 12 Palestinians were injured by live ammunition.
Six Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7, when the Israeli military began a full-scale assault on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords. In 2023, Israeli forces and settlers have shot and killed at least 45 Palestinian children and killed one Palestinian child with a targeted drone strike in the occupied West Bank.
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.