Ramallah, June 22, 2023—Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy yesterday in an aerial drone strike in the occupied West Bank.
Ashraf Morad Mahmoud Al-Sa’di, 15, was killed on June 21 around 9 p.m. when an Israeli weaponized aerial drone targeted the vehicle he was in located north of the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, according to information collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. When targeted, Ashraf was with two other Palestinians in a white vehicle close to the Israeli separation wall on a dirt road in agricultural lands of the Palestinian neighborhood of Dahiyat Sabah Al-Khair, about 3 km (1.8 miles) away from Israel’s Al-Jalameh military checkpoint. At least four missiles were fired at the vehicle killing Ashraf and the other two Palestinians and setting it ablaze.
A gate exists in the separation wall at the scene of the airstrike, which is used by Israeli forces and military vehicles are often parked inside the gate. Ashraf and the two other Palestinian men allegedly exited the vehicle near the gate and opened fire at Israeli military vehicles parked on the other side of the Israeli separation barrier. Ashraf and the others were targeted as they were withdrawing towards the vehicle, according to news media reports.
“Israeli forces exhibit complete disregard for international norms and have increasingly targeted Palestinian children with intentional lethal force since 2014 with impunity,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Ashraf is the first Palestinian child killed in the West Bank in a drone strike, which raises grave concerns that Israeli forces will increasingly target Palestinian children in circumstances that amount to extrajudicial killings.”
Several ambulances arrived at the site, but they were intercepted by Israeli forces and were not allowed to approach the scene, according to eyewitnesses. Palestinian civil defense vehicles also arrived at the site and were allowed to extinguish the vehicle that was set ablaze by the drone strike. Three charred human bodies were seen lying on the ground as the civil defense crew was putting out the fire, according to information gathered by DCIP.
30 Palestinian children have been killed in 2023, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Ashraf is the first Palestinian child killed by an Israeli drone strike in the occupied West Bank, while Israeli forces have shot and killed 22 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank. Six Palestinian children in Gaza were killed in the May 2023 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and a 10-year-old Palestinian child in Gaza succumbed to head wounds he sustained during the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip in August 2022.
International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires all parties to an armed conflict to distinguish between military targets, civilians, and civilian objects. Only military objectives can be lawful or legitimate objects of an attack.
53 Palestinian children were killed in 2022, according to documentation collected by DCIP, including 36 Palestinian children shot and killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the occupied West Bank. DCIP documented the killing of 17 Palestinian children between August 5–7 after Israeli forces launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip.