Private guard kills teen at checkpoint

Container checkpoint east of Abu Dis in April 2019.

Anne Paq ActiveStills

An Israeli security guard killed Muhammad Nidal Younis Mousa, 15, at a military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank early Monday.

Video of the incident indicates that the teen was extrajudicially executed – days after another Palestinian was killed in similar circumstances in Jerusalem.

Muhammad was shot after he allegedly drove into a group of private guards staffing Jabara checkpoint south of Tulkarm, injuring one, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

A video clip recorded by an eyewitness and uploaded to Facebook depicts guards firing towards a motionless vehicle that had apparently crashed into a checkpoint inspection booth.

The guards are shown standing some two meters from the crashed vehicle when a single shot is fired.

The guards are then seen tending to someone lying on the ground, presumably the injured guard, and then carrying that person away.

The guards then disperse around the checkpoint. The video clip, more than a minute long, does not show any attempt to provide first aid to Muhammad, who was presumably still in the crashed vehicle.

It is not clear how many shots may have been fired at the teen before the clip was recorded.


Muhammad Nidal Younis Mousa (DCIP)

Muhammad is the 17th Palestinian child shot and killed by Israeli forces or civilians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of 2021, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

Muhammad’s family had reported him missing to Palestinian authorities after he left his home shortly after midnight, the child rights group said.

He turned up at Jabara checkpoint and crashed his father’s car into the inspection booth at around 1:20 am.

Israeli occupation forces raided Muhammad’s home hours after he was shot.

Soldiers ransacked the house and interrogated the teen’s mother and 6-year-old brother.

Muhammad’s family was informed that the teen had succumbed to his injuries at an Israeli hospital at around 10 am.

“There is no automatic internal review mechanism for incidents involving the use of force” by private Israeli security companies staffing West Bank checkpoints, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

Human rights groups have long dismissed Israel’s self-investigation mechanisms concerning abuses against Palestinians as a “fig leaf” for the occupation.

Israel’s justice ministry reportedly opened an investigation into the apparent extrajudicial execution of 25-year-old Muhammad Salima in Jerusalem on Saturday.

But the two officers involved in his death have already returned to “operational duty,” according to Israeli media, and have been hailed as heroes by Israel’s top leaders.


It is not immediately clear why Muhammad ended up at Jabara checkpoint.

But in the case of another teenager recently killed by Israeli forces, that child appears to have been egged on by an Israeli intelligence officer with whom he exchanged messages online.

That boy, 14-year-old Amjad Abu Sultan, was shot by soldiers in an ambush on the outskirts of Beit Jala near the West Bank city of Bethlehem in mid-October.

According to Israeli journalist Amira Hass, Amjad wrote to an officer with the Shin Bet to say “that he planned to throw a firebomb and that he himself had carried out acts for which a friend of his, Adham, had been arrested.”

“In an exchange of text messages found on the boy’s cellphone, the field officer wrote that unlike his friend who had been apprehended, Abu Sultan was a ‘nobody’ and didn’t interest him,” Hass reports.

Hass points out that “a planned ambush is exactly what it sounds like: an ambush based on prior information.”

That information was presumably passed on to the army by the Shin Bet captain with whom Amjad had corresponded.

The exchange began when Amjad made a comment on one of the captain’s Facebook posts and “continued by means of personal correspondence via the messenger app,” Hass states.

“Verbal brawls with Shin Bet agents on Facebook is a way for Palestinian children – who do not understand the helplessness of their parents and the political leadership – to let off steam,” Hass adds.

It’s also a way for Shin Bet agents to prey on and potentially entrap Palestinian children, who live under comprehensive Israeli surveillance.

Concerted campaign

Last week, the Hebrew-language outlet Ynet published images of an app used by soldiers to enter photos of Palestinians, their ID numbers and license plates into a biometric database.

Soldiers are rewarded for photographing Palestinians – including children – “with prizes for the most pictures collected by each unit,” as The Washington Post reported in November.

Meanwhile, Israel recently outlawed Defense for Children International-Palestine, declaring it and five other prominent Palestinian human rights and social service organizations as “terrorist groups.”

Reporting by journalist Ronen Bergman suggests that Israel’s defense ministry outlawed the organizations to retroactively justify the hacking of phones belonging to Palestinians working for the groups.

Three of the targeted groups, including Defense for Children International-Palestine, have assisted the International Criminal Court investigation into war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel seeks to sabotage that probe and consolidate decades of impunity.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.