Doctors surround the body of Samir Awad, 16, fatally shot by Israeli soldiers “hiding” near his school as he “tried to run away,” in January 2013.
At least twice in 2013, Israeli occupation forces ambushed, shot and killed Palestinian children near schools in the occupied West Bank for no apparent reason, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says in a 5 January release.
“No evidence has been presented by the Israeli authorities that a 15-year-old boy fatally shot in the back by Israeli soldiers near his school on 9 December 2013 posed any threat to life that would justify such a killing,” HRW states.
The boy, Wajih al-Ramahi, was killed in Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah.
It was “inconclusive” whether al-Ramahi “had joined Palestinian youths nearby who were throwing stones toward the soldiers, but the soldiers were approximately 200 meters away and not at any risk of being hit by stones,” HRW says, based on the testimonies it collected.
Israel’s heavily armed occupation forces frequently justify firing on Palestinians as a reaction to stone-throwing.
“Hiding near schools”
The killing of al-Ramahi was the second time in 2013 that “Israeli soldiers hiding near schools, apparently to make arrests, have killed children who posed no apparent threat,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
In January 2013, Israeli occupation forces who had “concealed themselves next to a military fence not far from the boys’ school in the village of Budrus fatally shot Samir Awad, 16,” according to HRW.
“Awad had entered an open military gate in the Israeli separation barrier. Soldiers appeared and shot Awad as he tried to run away,” witnesses said, according to HRW.
The HRW release details the witness testimonies and other facts about both cases.
Ongoing attacks on children
Israeli occupation forces killed 28 Palestinians from the West Bank in 2013, three times as many as in 2012.
The year 2013 also saw the highest number of child fatalities by Israeli forces in the West Bank since 2006.
At least 11 children, including a two-year-old girl, were shot and injured by Israeli occupation forces enforcing the siege of Gaza during 2013.
Hala Abu Sbeikha, a toddler, was killed on 24 December 2013 in an Israeli air attack on Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.
Already on 3 January this year, Adnan Abu Khater, 16, died of injuries suffered when he was shot with live ammunition by Israeli occupation forces east of Jabaliya near the boundary fence between Gaza and present-day Israel.
HRW’s release highlights the persistent impunity enjoyed by members of the Israeli occupation forces who kill and injure Palestinians.
“Israel has indicted only 16 security officials for unlawfully killing Palestinians since September 2000, and convicted only six; the longest jail sentence imposed was for seven months, according to information Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group, obtained from the military,” says HRW.
Since 2000, more than 6,700 Palestinians, almost 1,400 of them children, have been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.