Ramallah, June 22, 2018—A Palestinian child died June 18 from wounds sustained more than two weeks earlier when Israeli forces shot him with live ammunition during protests near the Gaza permiter fence.
On May 30, an Israeli soldier shot 14-year-old Zakaria Bashbash in the back from the opposite side of the perimeter fence near al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, seriously injuring him, based on a preliminary investigation by Defense for Children International - Palestine. According to the child’s family, Israel rejected a permit request for Zakaria to travel through the Israeli controlled Erez Crossing for medical treatment in Jerusalem. Zakaria succumbed to critical injuries 19 days later.
“Israel appears to have violated international laws twice over,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “First, live ammunition is a lethal amount of force and must only be used as a last resort. Second, Israel must not prevent injured children from accessing potentially life saving medical care.”
DCIP’s initial investigation found that Israeli forces shot Zakaria, who had attended protests, around 6:30 p.m. The bullet entered the middle of the child’s back and caused damage to his spine, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, liver, and intestines.
Zakaria was transferred to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in serious condition where he underwent surgery before being transferred to the intensive care unit of Shifa Hospital.
The Bashbash family told DCIP that Palestinian authorities approved a referral for Zakaria to receive treatment at St. Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem. However, Israeli authorities on June 4 rejected a permit request that would have allowed the child to leave the Gaza Strip, the family said.
The family attempted to find alternative medical treatment options in Egypt but doctors were concerned that he was not stable enough for the journey. Zakaria’s parents were also unsuccessful in securing treatment for him in other West Bank hospitals, the child’s family reported.
During this time, Zakaria’s condition continued to worsen and he suffered from severe infection and sepsis. He was pronounced dead around 4 p.m. at Shifa Hospital, in the northern Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces have killed 16 Palestinian children in the context of “March of Return” protests along the Gaza Strip perimeter fence between March 30 and June 18, including Zakaria.
During “March of Return" demonstrations Palestinian protested refugees’ inability to return to properties lost during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, according to local media. Approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s current 2 million residents are registered refugees.
The majority of children were killed by live ammunition, including eight children who were shot in the head or neck, according to DCIP documentation.
Under international law, lethal force may only be used as a last resort in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury exists.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the sharp increase in casualties since March 30 has “exacerbated the long-term shortage of medicines and limited capacities of health facilities” in the Gaza Strip.
Between March 30 and June 2, Israel denied exit permits to 50 percent of Palestinian patients who were injured during demonstrations and sought healthcare outside of the Gaza Strip, WHO reported.