Gaza teen killed by Israeli fire

Mourners bid a final farewell to Yousif Shaaban Abu Athra during his funeral in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on 22 March.

Ashraf Amra APA images

A Palestinian teen was killed and two others injured by shelling on Gaza just before midnight on Tuesday as the Israeli army chief of staff admitted to “disproportionate” use of force in response to rockets fired from the territory.

Yousif Shaaban Abu Athra, 15, died after sustaining injuries to his head in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Muhammad Waheed Atallah al-Ekir, 25, was seriously injured with shrapnel wounds in his chest and abdomen.

The education ministry in Gaza said that Abu Athra was a 10th grade student.

An Israeli army spokesperson told media that the three were behaving in a suspicious manner, as though they were attempting to plant an explosive device, without giving further details.

The military frequently fires on Palestinians who enter the so-called buffer zone along Gaza’s boundary with Israel. The no-go area is understood to extend some 300 meters into Gaza’s eastern and northern territory, but Palestinian human rights groups say that the zones can go as deep as 1,500 meters.

Several Palestinians were killed in the no-go zones in 2016.

Israel also frequently fires on Palestinian fishermen off of the Gaza coastline, which is subjected to similar restrictions. One fisherman went missing and is presumed dead after naval forces rammed his boat in January.

Army chief admits to “disproportionate force”

On Wednesday the Israeli army’s chief of staff told a parliamentary committee that the military uses “disproportionate” force in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

“The Israel Defense Force employs a policy of using aggressive, and disproportionate, force in order to prevent situations in which they fire rockets at us and we return shells,” Gadi Eisenkot stated.

Electricity infrastructure was reported to have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza last week after a rocket fired from the territory landed in an open area in southern Israel.

Last week Eisenkot said that Israel would not hesitate to strike “Lebanon and the organizations operating under its authority and approval,” suggesting it would target civilian infrastructure in any future military confrontation with Hizballah.

Israel employed what is known as the Dahiya doctrine – named for a Beirut neighborhood leveled by Israeli strikes – during its assault on Lebanon in 2006. The doctrine involves the application of disproportionate force to cause great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure and the suffering of civilians.

Eisenkot disclosed an expansion of this doctrine shortly before Israel’s unprecedented assault on Gaza that caused widespread destruction and hundreds of civilian fatalities during its military offensive in December 2008 and January 2009.

“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases,” Eisenkot, then a senior general, told an Israeli newspaper.

Army kills boy in West Bank

Meanwhile, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian boy in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

Murad Yousif Abu Ghazi, 17, died after he was shot in the chest in the al-Arroub refugee camp near the city of Hebron.

An Israeli army spokesperson claimed that soldiers fired towards a group who were throwing firebombs at passing cars.

A Palestinian girl was in critical condition last week after she was wounded by Israeli soldiers at a junction near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the southern West Bank. The army claimed Fatima Taqatqa, 16, was attempting to carry out a car ramming attack when she was shot. No Israelis were physically injured during the incident.

Taqatqa and another Palestinian teenager, Jihad Hammad, were under Israeli detention last week in separate hospitals. Hammad, 17, was shot in the head with a live bullet during confrontations in the central West Bank village of Silwad on 10 March.

Thirty-five Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2016.

This story was updated on Thursday after additional details on the incident in which Yousif Shaaban Abu Athra was killed were made available. The story was updated again on Friday to correct the ages given for Yousif Abu Athra and Murad Abu Ghazi. Defense for Children International - Palestine has confirmed their ages as 15 and 17, respectively.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.