Palestinian child killings spike in 2018

Women and girls mourn over body of youth wrapped in PFLP flags with a wreath placed on his torso

Relatives of Arkan Mizher, killed by Israeli soldiers during a raid, mourn over his body during his funeral in Dheisheh refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 23 July.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

Israeli occupation forces raiding a refugee camp in the West Bank shot a 14-year-old boy in the chest, killing him, on Monday.

Arkan Thaer Hilmi Mizher was wounded as residents of Dheisheh camp near the city of Bethlehem confronted raiding soldiers.

“Israeli forces closed the main road, preventing ambulances from reaching the area,” Defense for Children International Palestine stated. The boy was taken in a private car to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Such raids are commonplace throughout the West Bank.

Israeli occupation forces conducted around 7,200 night raids on homes across the West Bank in the year 2010, according to Al-Haq, a human rights group based in the territory.

The pre-dawn raids, undertaken without a warrant or notice while residents are typically asleep, are used to ensure Israel’s “subjugation of the Palestinian population and as a method of social control,” Al-Haq states.

Palestinians living in Dheisheh refugee camp are constantly subjected to such raids.

Night raids

Smiling boy wearing dress shirt and bow-tie sits on chair in what appears to be a wedding hall

Arkan Mizher

Raed al-Salhi, a 22-year-old camp resident, died in September 2017, one month after being shot seven times at close range during a raid on his home.

“Night raids have become something usual for Dheisheh,” another camp resident told The Electronic Intifada last year. “We often wake up to the smell of tear gas and never sleep deeply – you must keep one eye open to protect your family as much as you can.”

The boy fatally wounded during Monday’s raid on Dheisheh was the sixth Palestinian child slain by Israeli forces in July.

“Israeli forces regularly fire live ammunition during night raids in the West Bank,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish of Defense for Children International Palestine stated.

“Live ammunition is a lethal amount of force and puts Palestinian children at grave risk.”

At least 31 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel so far this year, according to Defense for Children International Palestine. No children are among the nine Israelis killed by Palestinians in 2018.

UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, condemned the killing of Arkan Mizher, who was a student in one of its schools, and called for “an independent and transparent investigation to establish the cause and circumstances of this death.”

Ten refugees have been killed by Israeli forces in West Bank camps since the beginning of 2017, according to UNRWA. Three Palestinian refugees were killed in Dheisheh camp during that period.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness noted the increase of injuries by live fire in refugee camps:

Child fatalities spike

Defense for Children International Palestine has noted that the number of Palestinian child fatalities in the first half of 2018 was nearly three times that of the same period last year.

Eighteen of those killings took place in the context of the Great March of Return protests along Gaza’s eastern perimeter beginning in late March.

More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since then, 115 of them during protests. Another 4,200 Palestinians in Gaza were wounded by live ammunition during that period.

The youngest among those killed was Yasir Abu al-Naja, 11, who died instantly after being shot in the head during protests east of Khan Younis on 29 June.

Five children in Gaza were killed with live fire and missiles in July.

Two 14-year-old boys sitting on the rooftop of a building were killed in an airstrike on 14 July.

Children’s bodies withheld

Israel is withholding the bodies of two Palestinian children killed by its forces.

Khaled Abd al-Al, 17, and three others were shot at after crossing the boundary fence with Israel and setting a military post on fire near Rafah, southernmost Gaza, on 2 July.

“An eyewitness told [Defense for Children International Palestine] that the group was running away toward the Palestinian side of the fence when they came under heavy fire and Khaled was struck by live ammunition,” the group reported.

“Israeli soldiers then dragged Khaled away by his hands, according to the eyewitness, and his family was later notified of his death,” Defense for Children International Palestine added.

Yusif Abu Jazar, 15, reportedly died in an Israeli hospital after he was shot while attempting to cross the boundary fence on 29 April. His body has not yet been returned to his family.

Senior Israeli officer Zvika Fogel explained that same month how army snipers take deliberate aim at children, only firing when given the order by a superior.

“To my great sorrow, sometimes when you shoot at a small body and you intended to hit his arm or shoulder, it goes even higher,” Fogel said in an attempt to justify the deaths of children.

This story was updated to include statements and statistics released by UNRWA.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.