Ramallah, July 29, 2017—Israeli forces killed a 16-year-old Palestinian and injured two others with live fire near the Gaza Strip border fence with Israel, east of Buriej refugee camp, on Friday, according to testimony collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine.
Israeli forces fired tear gas before opening fire on around 100 Palestinian youths who set fire to tires and threw stones at the soldiers in protest to Israeli restrictions on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque. Abdel-Rahman Hussein Jaber Abu Hamisa was 20 to 30 meters (65 to 98 feet) away from Israeli forces stationed behind artificial sand hills on the Israeli side of the border fence when he was shot with live ammunition in the left shoulder around 4:30 p.m. The bullet exited from the right side of his back, killing him immediately, according to DCIP sources.
Witnesses told DCIP that Israeli forces fired live ammunition at several youths who attempted to reach Abdel-Rahman after he was shot. Moumen Rajab al-Khalidi, 23, was shot in the right leg and Imad Talal Jaber, 15, was wounded in his left leg by two pieces of shrapnel from a live bullet.
“Abdel-Rahman’s death is only the most recent to come as a result of Israeli forces’ frequent use of live ammunition at the Gaza border,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “This complete disregard for human life that Israeli soldiers exhibit suggests that the use of lethal force is their standard operating procedure whatever the circumstance.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported 225 injuries during protests in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in addition to 25 injured in the Gaza Strip on the day Abdel-Rahman was killed. The majority of injuries resulted from rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas.
Hussein is among 12 Palestinian children killed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces since the start of 2017, as Palestinian fatalities and injuries increased in recent weeks following heightened tensions around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.
On July 21, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to demonstrate against access restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on Al-Aqsa mosque following an attack carried out by Palestinian gunmen at the holy site on July 14 that left two Israeli policemen dead. Mohammad Lafi, 17, was among three Palestinians to be killed and nearly 400 injured during the day, when peaceful demonstrations against the restrictions devolved into violent clashes between the protesters and Israeli forces.
Five Palestinians were also killed between July 4 and 17, including 16-year-old Aws Salameh. Nine children were injured in the same period during clashes with Israeli forces across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documentation.
While international law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable, DCIP evidence and Israeli internal investigations have determined on several occasions that children killed by live ammunition did not pose a direct, mortal threat at the time of their death.
The border area where Hussein was shot, often referred to as the buffer zone, is a site of frequent danger for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In 2005, Israel unilaterally declared an area of Palestinian territory along the Gaza-Israel border a “no-go zone,” restricting Palestinians from accessing their own lands. The exact range of the buffer zone is unclear and Palestinians often only know they have entered the area when they encounter Israeli fire.
Israeli forces shot 17-year-old Khaled Ghamri in the abdomen during a protest near the border on May 23, leaving him in critical condition. Israeli authorities have since denied Khaled an exit permit to travel from Gaza to Jerusalem for medical treatment.
An ongoing electricity shortage meanwhile has worsened the ability for the Gaza Strip’s already depleted hospitals to provide medical care for some two million residents, who have lived on just a few hours of electricity a day since June. OCHA warned after the recent power reduction by Israel and the Palestinian Authority that extended blackout periods could lead to a “total collapse in basic services.”