Israel kills another child in the West Bank

Hands caress the face of a dead boy, wrapped in a scarf and flag

Palestinians mourn over the body of 16-year-old Hamza Amjad Ashqar who was fatally shot by Israeli forces, in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on 7 February. 

Wajed Nobani APA images

A Palestinian youth died after being shot by Israeli occupation forces near Fawwar refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday.

This comes after occupation forces killed a child in another part of the West Bank earlier in the week.

In Thursday’s incident, the Israeli army claimed that Sharif Hasan Rabbaa had tried to stab one of its soldiers and that its “forces fired and neutralized him.”

Rabbaa was detained by the Israeli army, which published an image of a knife they claimed he used.

Hours later, the Palestinian Authority health ministry announced that the 22-year-old had died from his injuries.

Earlier in the week, a Palestinian boy was fatally shot by Israeli forces during a raid in the northern West Bank.

The Lions Den resistance group said it engaged Israeli forces as they invaded the al-Masaken al-Shaabiyya neighborhood in Nablus in the early hours of Tuesday.

Palestinian youths pelted Israeli army vehicles with rocks from a distance of about 30 meters as they were withdrawing from the area, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP).

One boy allegedly threw a piece of metal at one of the army vehicles.

An Israeli soldier in one of the vehicles fired live ammunition at another boy who was with him, 16-year-old Hamza Amjad Ashqar, hitting him in the mouth and waist.

Ashqar was transported to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.

He is the ninth Palestinian child to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2023.

“Israeli forces routinely resort to intentional lethal force in situations not justified under international law and make no effort to impartially investigate or ensure that Israeli soldiers act in accordance with international standards,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP.

“Israeli forces’ near-daily incursions into Palestinian communities too often result in an Israeli soldier’s bullet in a Palestinian child’s body,” Abu Eqtaish added.

Earthquake aid hampered by sanctions

Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians known to have died in the devastating earthquake that struck parts of Turkey and Syria has risen to nearly 60.

The overall toll has passed 16,000 but is expected to rise further as rescue workers struggle to reach thousands of people thought to be trapped in ruined buildings.

There are more than 438,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps in Syria, according to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. More than 60,000 of them live in northern Syria, which was badly hit by the earthquake.

While emergency teams have arrived from dozens of countries to help the rescue efforts in Turkey, the UN says that little aid has been directed towards Syria.

The United States and its Western allies have been refusing to send aid through the government in Damascus.

They want aid to be channeled through the rebel-held north of the country, which is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaida-linked jihadist group that has long been tacitly supported by the United States and Turkey, even though Washington lists it as a “terrorist” organization.

Despite the earthquake, the United States has refused to lift sanctions that have for years made it almost impossible to bring vital supplies into Syria, which has been ravaged by more than a decade of war.

On Wednesday, Syria requested emergency aid through the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism.

The EU said it would encourage its members to provide assistance, but there has been no indication it would lift its own punishing sanctions on Syria any time soon.

Rescuers and supplies from several countries, including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Iran and Algeria, have already landed in airports in government-controlled parts of Syria.

But the ongoing Western sanctions mean that what aid does reach Syria will have a hard time getting to where it is desperately needed.

“There is no fuel even to send [aid and rescue convoys], and this is because of the blockade and sanctions,” Khaled Hboubati of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told reporters in Damascus on Tuesday.

Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.