As tensions mount between the West Bank and East Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has promised a “harsh offensive” against Palestinian children.
While grave violations against Palestinian children by Israeli forces are a cornerstone of Israel’s seemingly permanent military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, recent policy changes combined with systemic impunity will inevitably amplify an already dire situation for Palestinian children.
Recently the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promised a “harsh offensive” in response to the latest protests against Israel’s occupation and violence. During the first week of October, suspected Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli settlers near the West Bank village of Beit Furik. On Oct. 3, Israeli police gunned down Muhannad Halabi, a 19-year-old Palestinian law student, after he stabbed to death an off-duty Israeli soldier and a rabbi in Jerusalem’s Old City, according to news reports. Hours later, police shot dead Fadi Alloun, 18, near the Old City’s Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem for allegedly stabbing a 15-year-old Israeli boy. Video of the shooting depicts Israeli police officers opening fire on Alloun as a crowd of onlookers urges them on. On the evening of Oct. 4, Israeli forces killed Huthayfa Othman Suleiman, 18, during clashes near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Palestinian media reported. And the list goes on.
Netanyahu’s pledge comes after Israeli authorities relaxed live-fire rules providing Israeli police a green light to use live ammunition against Palestinian stone throwers in Jerusalem whenever they decide a “threat to life” exists. This is a significant change as live ammunition was previously only justified when an individual posed a direct, mortal threat to an officer’s own life.
While international law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable, investigations by Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) regularly find that children posed no direct, mortal threat to the life of any police officer or soldier at the time they were killed.
For example, on May 15, 2014, two Palestinian teenagers, Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Salameh Abu Daher, 16, were shot and killed by Israeli forces near Israel’s Ofer military prison in the West Bank. Nadeem sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, and Mohammad was shot in the back about an hour later in nearly the same spot. CCTV cameras, fixed on the building where the boys were shot, captured the fatal shootings, and reaffirmed that neither boy posed any lethal or imminent threat to Israeli forces at the time they were killed.