The second week of 2018 is not yet over and already Israeli occupation forces have killed three Palestinian children.
Fourteen Palestinian boys and girls under the age of 18 were killed by soldiers and police in all of 2017.
Two children were shot and killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday. A third child was seriously injured.
Amir Abd al-Hamid Abu Musaad, 15, died immediately after being hit in the chest with a live bullet during a protest along the Gaza-Israel boundary, Defense for Children International-Palestine stated.
“An eyewitness said that soldiers fired live ammunition from across the Israeli border fence at a group of around 20 protestors throwing stones toward the fence,” the rights group stated.
Mahmoud Tawfiq al-Masri, 17, was shot in the stomach during the same protest and is in critical condition, Defense for Children International-Palestine stated on Friday. Two teenagers over the age of 18 were also shot and wounded.
An Israeli army spokesperson told media that its forces fired on Palestinians for “posing a threat to the security fence and soldiers.”
Israeli forces are typically separated from Palestinians protesting inside Gaza by fences and a large distance and are often in fortified positions, making it unlikely that demonstrators could present a credible danger.
Israeli soldiers have shot and fatally wounded nine Palestinians during protests over Jerusalem along the Gaza-Israel boundary since 6 December, when Donald Trump announced that the US would recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
The second boy killed on Thursday, 17-year-old Ali Omar Nimer Qinu, was shot with a live bullet in the head during confrontations between Palestinians and soldiers near Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Witnesses told Defense for Children International-Palestine that “Soldiers were positioned on a side road near the village entrance when they fired shots from inside a military jeep at several youths standing on a hill.”
“Protesters fled the area and returned shortly after to find Ali on the ground bleeding from his head, a witness told [Defense for Children International-Palestine]. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.”
The confrontations broke out after Israeli forces set up a checkpoint west of the village of Iraq Burin as part of a crackdown after an Israeli settler was shot and killed by unknown assailants in the area earlier in the week.
An army spokesperson told media that soldiers had “fired towards the main instigators” of “violent riots” and that they were aware of reports that a Palestinian had been killed.
Another boy, Musab Tamimi, 16 years old, was killed by soldiers during confrontations in the central West Bank village of Deir Nitham on 3 January. He is the first Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in 2018.
Eyewitnesses told Defense for Children International-Palestine that “Israeli forces repeatedly fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, and tear gas at around 30 Palestinians throwing stones.”
One of the witnesses told Defense for Children International-Palestine that he saw “a soldier take a sniper position on one knee.”
The witness added: “At that moment I heard the sound of live fire and I saw Musab fall to the ground.”
“Eyewitnesses did not report a firearm in Musab’s possession and relatives told news outlets that no weapons were found on or near his body,” Defense for Children International-Palestine stated.
It is highly unlikely that Israeli spokespersons would not disseminate photos of any firearm carried by the 16-year-old boy if any such weapon existed.
“International law permits the use of lethal force only when an imminent mortal threat or threat of serious injury exists,” Defense for Children International-Palestine stated after Tamimi’s slaying.
“[Defense for Children International-Palestine] has repeatedly documented the use of live ammunition by Israeli forces on Palestinian children, often in circumstances where the use of such force was unwarranted.”
One week after Tamimi’s death, Israeli soldiers reportedly vandalized posters commemorating the slain teen in the village of Deir Nitham.
A photo shows one such poster covered with Stars of David, including one on the boy’s forehead, a drawing of a middle finger and Hebrew slogans saying “son of a whore,” “whore” and “dead,” the Ma’an News Agency reported.
The day after Tamimi was killed, 17-year-old Hassan Mezher was shot in the back and critically wounded while walking to school from Dheisheh refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
“Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, and tear gas canisters in the area, according to initial reports,” Defense for Children International-Palestine stated. “A bullet hit his spine and he underwent surgery.”
Last year The Electronic Intifada reported that an Israeli army officer threatened to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”
Several camp youths interviewed in Dheisheh said the officer had threatened or caused severe physical harm, especially to their lower limbs.
Child injuries spike
Violations of Palestinian children’s rights have spiked after protests erupted over Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.
On 22 December, 16-year-old Hamza Obeid was shot by soldiers using live ammunition when he climbed a fence near the Gaza-Israel boundary and damaged a surveillance camera, according to Defense for Chidren International-Palestine.
The group added that in separate incidents between 15 and 26 December, “Israeli forces shot three minors’ legs with live ammunition, one of whom required a foot amputation. Two other children were shot in the feet in the West Bank’s Arroub refugee camp.”
Israeli soldiers are almost never held to account for injuring or killing Palestinian civilians, including children.
Only one recent case of a Palestinian child fatality “has resulted in both an investigation and indictment,” according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.
Another Palestinian child, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, was fatally shot that same day in nearly the exact same spot as Nuwara while Palestinians participated in protests marking Nakba Day, the annual commemoration of the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the Palestinian homeland by Zionist forces.
No one has been charged in the killing of Abu al-Thahir.
Manslaughter charges against Dery for shooting Nuwara were downgraded to a lesser charge of negligent killing after prosecutors reached a plea deal last year.
The Nuwara family rejected the deal and appealed to Israel’s high court.
A sentence announcement was expected during a court hearing in Jerusalem this week, but none came.
“The Nuwara family will have to wait at least until April to hear the judge sentence the man who killed their son,” wrote +972 Magazine contributor Joshua Leifer, who was present at the hearing.
Firas Assali, the Nuwara family’s lawyer, told +972 that Dery’s sentence “could be as lenient as community service.”
He told the publication: “This is a green light to the army to continue to treat Palestinians as numbers and targets, and not as human beings.”
Israeli media reported on Friday that an army officer who killed a Palestinian by firing on the car in which he was traveling will likely not stand trial and instead be dismissed from the military.
Mahmoud Badran, 15, was hit after he and a group of young Palestinians were returning from a late-night pool party during Ramadan in June 2016.
Five others were injured during the incident, including the driver of the car, who lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall.
The army admitted the Palestinians were “mistakenly” shot while soldiers were responding to reports of rock-throwing and firebombing on a highway used by settlers in the West Bank.
The Israeli daily Haaretz stated that internal military police investigators weighed in favor of the officer’s testimony when deciding not to press charges against him over the teen’s killing.
The internal probe “found that the officer did indeed think that the occupants of the car were terrorists who had been throwing stones at cars on the highway, and that the mistake in identity was reasonable under the circumstances,” according to Haaretz.
The pretense of a robust internal investigation system, however, is used by Israel to shield itself from accountability at the International Criminal Court while allowing the military to continuously clear itself of wrongdoing.