Ramallah, July 11, 2014—Chief Israeli military prosecutor, General Danny Efrni, closed the investigation into the killing of Yousef al-Shawamrah, 14, who was shot dead by live ammunition in March. No warning shots were fired, but the prosecution found that, “the force prepared for the operation professionally and acted in line with rules for opening fire.”
According to Israeli army regulations, live ammunition may only be used by soldiers when they are in mortal danger.
Yousef is one of five Palestinian children killed with live ammunition by Israeli forces this year. None of the soldiers involved has been held to account.
This “policy of impunity” has enabled Israeli soldiers to use excessive force without punishment. An Amnesty International report found that 41 Palestinians had been killed by live ammunition in the West Bank between 2011 and 2013 alone. The same report cited findings that between September 2000 and June 2013, only 16 investigations ended in indictment of Israeli soldiers.
Ramallah, March 25, 2014—Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager last week in the southern West Bank.
Yousef al-Shawamrah, 14, was shot in the back and hip with live ammunition near his village of Deir al-Asal al-Fawqa, which sits alongside Israel’s separation barrier, on Wednesday March 19.
Shawamrah left home around 6:30 am to forage for wild thistle, used in Palestinian cooking, along with two friends, Zahi, 12 and Muntaser, 17.
The boys planned to look for thistle in an area of land belonging to the village that now sits on the other side of the separation barrier.
As they crossed the barrier, soldiers fired three shots without warning, Muntaser told DCI-Palestine in a sworn testimony. Another two bullets were fired, which hit Shawamrah in the hip and back as he tried to return through the barrier.
Six soldiers, dressed in black fatigues and black face masks, then emerged from a group of olive trees less than 70 meters away, according to Muntaser.
An Israeli army spokesperson speaking to Maan News Agency alleged that the boys were attempting to sabotage Israel’s separation barrier, and “soldiers at the scene called them to distance themselves” before firing at their lower extremities.
The Israeli military has yet to return Shawamrah’s body.
Eighty-five percent of the separation barrier and its planned route is located within the occupied West Bank and not along the Green Line, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.
It results in grave violations of Palestinian rights by severely restricting freedom of movement, restricting access to private land and crucial services.
Shawamrah is the second Palestinian child killed from live ammunition fired by Israeli forces this year, according to data collected by DCI-Palestine. Over 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2000.
“According to the Israeli army’s own regulations, the use of live ammunition is only justified in circumstance of mortal danger,” said Rifat Kassis, Executive Director of DCI-Palestine.
“When a 14-year-old is shot with two live bullets from a distance of less than 100 meters, it must be presumed that the standard has not been met and the perpetrator must be held accountable.”
Shawamrah’s companions were detained briefly by the Israeli military and claim they were subject to ill-treatment.
Muntaser told DCI-Palestine that he and Zahi were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to a nearby Israeli settlement, where they were beaten after failing to respond to questions posed in Hebrew, which neither speaks.
They were transferred to an Israeli police station in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba where they were interrogated, fingerprinted and had their pictures taken by Israeli authorities.
At 5 pm, 11 hours after they set out to pick thistle, they were dropped off at the Ramadin checkpoint, about 7 kilometers (over 4 miles) from their homes.
Rifat Kassis added: “Once again, we are seeing the deadly consequences connected to the hyper-militarized environment of Israel’s prolonged occupation, in which children being children is enough to get them killed.”