UN Human Rights Office Calls for Investigations into Israeli Shooting of Palestinian Children

15-year-old Bashar Elyan lost his right eye after being hit by ricochet ammunition in the Qalandiya refugee camp. (Photo: File)

The United Nations Human Rights Office today called for a transparent investigation after Israeli occupation forces critically injured several Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli forces critically injured at least four children with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets in separate incidents across the West Bank in the past two weeks, it said.

All injuries resulted from the use of potentially lethal force in circumstances where available information suggests the children did not pose a threat to life or serious injury of the soldiers or to anyone else.

“It thus appears the force used was not in accordance with international law,” the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement, recalling that a 16-year-old boy was shot in the chest and critically injured in Al-Bireh city on November 29.

On November 28, Israeli soldiers shot live ammunition to the chest of another 16-year old boy in Silwad town near Ramallah. The boy was attempting to cross the street, where soldiers have been responding to stone-throwing. Despite trying to signal his intention to the soldiers, he was shot. He is in intensive care.

On November 27, during protests in Kafr Qaddum village in the north of the West Bank, Israeli soldiers shot a 16-year old boy in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet. The boy fell from the impact and is hospitalized with a fractured skull.

On November 17, a 15-year old boy on his way back from school lost his right eye after being hit by ricochet ammunition in the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem. Although there were clashes taking place between soldiers and residents of the camp, none of the available information suggests the boy would have posed a threat to anyone at the time he was shot, said the statement.

“UN Human Rights Office calls on Israel to promptly, transparently and independently investigate all instances of (Israeli army) use of force that have led to killing or injury and to hold those responsible accountable,” it said.

“In accordance with international law, use of lethal force is only allowed as a measure of last resort, in response to a threat to life or of serious injury. Stone-throwing does not appear to constitute such threat. In addition, force must always be used in a manner which causes the least possible harm. Shooting in the head or upper body does not appear to conform with this requirement. Children enjoy special protection under international law and must be protected from violence at all times. They should not be put at risk of nor or encouraged to participate in violence.”

“In 2019, Israeli security forces killed 133 Palestinians, including 28 minors. Of the casualties, 104 were killed in the Gaza Strip, 26 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and three within Israel,” Human Rights group B’tselem reported. 

“Most of these deaths were a direct outcome of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and military and backed by the legal system,” the group added.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

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