Israeli forces shoot, kill 15-year-old Palestinian boy near Jerusalem

Ramallah, March 7, 2022—Israeli forces shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy with live ammunition in the central occupied West Bank yesterday evening.

An Israeli soldier shot and killed 15-year-old Yamen Nafez Mahmoud Khanafseh around 8:30 p.m. on March 6 near an Israeli military base in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Israeli forces prevented Palestinian paramedics from treating Yamen, firing tear gas canisters at the ambulance as it approached the scene, according to information gathered by DCIP.

“Israeli forces routinely unlawfully kill Palestinian children with impunity, using excessive force and unjustified intentional lethal force,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “If a child is suspected of committing a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international standards and afforded due process of law.”

An eyewitness heard three gunshots around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night prompting them to call for an ambulance. There were no confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents at the time that Yamen was shot, according to information gathered by DCIP. 

Israeli forces confiscated Yamen’s body after he was killed, according to documentation gathered by DCIP. It is not clear when his body will be returned to his family.

An Israeli military statement alleged that Yamen was throwing Molotov cocktails at the time he was shot, Haaretz reported

Yamen is the third Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in 2022, all within a three-week period, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces shot and killed 13-year-old Mohammad Rezq Shehadeh Salah on February 22 in Al-Khader, southwest of Bethlehem. An Israeli sniper shot and killed 16-year-old Mohammad Akram Ali Taher Abu Salah with live ammunition on February 13 while Israeli forces deployed in the village of Silat Al-Harithiya near Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. 

2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014. Israeli forces and armed civilians killed 78 Palestinian children, according evidence collected by DCIP.

While it is unclear if Israeli authorities will continue to withhold Yamen’s body from his family, Israeli authorities continue to implement a policy of confiscating and withholding Palestinian bodies in violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. For grieving families, the Israeli policy of confiscating and withholding Palestinian bodies amounts to collective punishment.

In September 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the practice of confiscating human remains after several legal challenges to the policy. On November 27, 2019, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered all bodies of Palestinians alleged to have attacked Israeli citizens or soldiers to be withheld and not returned to their families. Israel is the only country in the world with such a policy of confiscating human remains, according to Adalah.

Israeli authorities are currently withholding the bodies of at least nine Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces, according to documentation gathered by DCIP.