Ramallah, August 8, 2017—A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by an unexploded ordnance (UXO) in an area used by the Israeli military as a training zone near Ibziq, north of the West Bank city of Tubas, on July 22.
Oday Nawaja'a stopped under a tree around 6 p.m. while herding sheep when the UXO detonated, killing him instantly, according to testimonies collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. His brother returned to his home in Ibziq, around two kilometers (1.24 miles) away, to call an ambulance while his uncle stayed next to Oday’s body. A Palestinian ambulance arrived around 45 minutes later and confirmed his death.
“Israeli military forces regularly carry out training exercises in or around areas where civilians reside, increasing the vulnerability of Palestinian children,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “Israel, as the occupying power, is obligated under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population. Israeli forces must remove or neutralize UXOs remaining after military training.”
Medics told Oday’s uncle, Da’as Nawaja'a, that shrapnel from the UXO caused a brain hemorrhage, leading to Oday’s death. Nawaja'a also told DCIP that he saw burn marks and a hole in the tree that Oday was standing next to when he was killed.
Nawjaa said the family lives in one of several areas in the northern Jordan Valley declared by the Israeli military as a “firing zone.” Evictions, demolitions, and UXO pose significant protection risks to Palestinian children living in these “firing zones,” where Israeli forces regularly conduct trainings, including the use of live ammunition and other weapons.
“[Military] drills are conducted throughout the year in this area, during which we are expelled from our houses for a few hours,” Nawaja'a told DCIP. “The drills result in foreign objects being dumped in the area, and we do our best to stay away from them because they are very dangerous.”
Oday is one of thirteen Palestinian children to be killed since the start of 2017, and among four killed in the month of July.
Abdel-Rahman Hussein Jaber Abu Hamisa, 16, and Mohammed Khalaf Mahmoud Khalaf Lafi, 17, were both fatally shot with live ammunition during clashes that erupted during demonstrations against Israeli restrictions on Al-Aqsa mosque in the latter half of July.
Abdel-Rahman was shot in the upper body by Israeli forces stationed around 20-30 meters (65 to 98 feet) away, on the Israeli side of the border fence in the Gaza Strip on July 28. Israeli forces shot Mohammad during clashes in Abu Dis, near East Jerusalem, on July 21. He died shortly thereafter.
Earlier in the month, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Aws Mohammad Yousef Salameh, 16, during a night raid on Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank.
In all three cases, witness testimonies collected by DCIP showed none of the children posed a direct, mortal threat at the time they were killed by Israeli forces. Such conduct is in direct contravention of international law, which mandates lethal force only be used as a last resort in the face of a direct threat.