Ramallah, April 2, 2019—Israeli forces have killed 11 Palestinian children in the first quarter of 2019, including three between March 27 and 30.
Two of these recent children killed, 17-year-old Adham Nidal Sakr Amara and 16-year-old Bilal Mahmoud Shaban Najjar, were fatally injured by Israeli fire during protests near the perimeter fence as large crowds gathered to mark the one-year anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests on Saturday. Volunteer medic Sajed Abdul Hakim Helmi Mizher, 17, sustained a fatal wound on the morning of March 27 during an early morning Israeli military raid in the central West Bank.
“Israeli forces are killing Palestinian children with live ammunition at alarming rates,” said director of the Accountability Program at Defense for Children International - Palestine, Ayed Abu Eqtaish. “UN investigators recently found that Israeli forces intentionally targeted child protestors in Gaza, conduct amounting to war crimes, yet the international community stands by as Palestinian children are killed with impunity. We need action."
At approximately 5 p.m. on March 30, Israeli forces shot Bilal during protests near the perimeter fence east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. He sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was given first aid treatment by medics on the scene. Bilal was transferred to Gaza International hospital. According to sources gathered by DCIP, the child underwent a four-hour surgery but he did not survive.
Israeli forces shot Adham in the head with live ammunition on March 30 around 3 p.m. during “Great March of Return” demonstrations east of Gaza City, in the central part of the Gaza Strip. He was transferred to Shifa hospital where he was pronounced dead around 3:30 p.m.
DCIP’s investigation found that Adham was likely struck with an exploding bullet. Medical sources DCIP spoke with stated that the object that struck Adham appeared to have detonated on the lower half of his face.
Three days earlier, Israeli forces shot Sajed around 6:30 a.m. in Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem. Confrontations had broken out that morning while Israel was carrying out a military arrest raid in the camp, DCIP sources said. Sajed, who was a volunteer medic, was present on the scene assisting a team of other medics. Eyewitnesses confirmed that Sajed was wearing his orange medic vest at the time he was shot.
The bullet entered through his right side and settled in his abdomen, causing internal bleeding. Sajed underwent surgery at the Arab Society for Rehabilitation in Beit Jala. He died on the operating table.
Earlier, on March 6 and February 22, Israeli forces killed two 14-year-old Palestinian boys.
Saif al-Deen Imad Nasser Abu Zaid was killed by live ammunition on March 6, 2019. He was participating in “night confusion” activities taking place near Zeitoun, outside Gaza City.
“We started to burn tires and throw fireworks and sound bombs at the border,” an eyewitness DCIP interviewed said. “There were a number of Israeli soldiers behind the sand hills east of the fence. We only saw their heads, and they were carrying night vision binoculars because it was dark. They were firing live bullets and tear gas canisters at us. They also fired flares.”
Around 9:30 p.m. the witness said Saif al-Deen was standing approximately 200 meters (656 feet) from the fence, when Israeli forces shot his forehead. Saif al-Deen was carrying an image of a child who had been killed by Israeli forces some weeks earlier, the witness said.
The boy received first aid treatment in the ambulance. He was pronounced dead around 1:00 a.m. on March 7 in Shifa hospital.
Yousef Said Hussein al-Dayeh was also killed by Israeli forces near the perimeter fence east of Zeitoun, in the central Gaza Strip. The 14-year-old was shot in the chest while protesting around 4 p.m. The bullet traveled through the boy’s chest near his heart and exited out of his back, medical sources said. Two hours later, he was pronounced dead in Shifa hospital.
The “Great March of Return” demonstrations began in the Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018 in protest of Palestinian refugees’ inability to return to properties lost during events surrounding the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and also to demand an end to Israel’s 11-year near total closure of the Gaza Strip. These mass civilian protests, which have taken place near-weekly over a one-year period in the area along the Israeli-installed Gaza perimeter fence or near the Mediterranean shore, have drawn large and diverse crowds of demonstrators, including women, children, and elderly people.
DCIP has found that Israeli forces repeatedly responded to protesters with unlawful force, killing children who posed no imminent threat. In January of this year, DCIP submitted a joint report to United Nations investigators detailing Israeli forces’ killing of Palestinian children during mass protests in the Gaza Strip. UN investigators found in March 2019 that Israeli forces likely committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in killing and maiming child protesters in Gaza.