Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

2016 "Deadliest Year" for West Bank Children in a Decade

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

2016 "Deadliest Year" for West Bank Children in a Decade

Article excerpt

ISRAELI FORCES have killed more Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016 than any other year in the last decade, rights group Defense for Children International (DCI) has said.

The organization's chapter in the occupied Palestinian territories recorded the killings of 32 Palestinian children (under 18), making 2016 "the deadliest year of the past decade" for them, the group said in a recent report.

Many of those killings happened during Israeli military raids on Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank, confrontations with the Israeli army, or during unarmed protests.

"Israeli soldiers employ a shoot-to-kill policy. They have the green light to kill Palestinians, and the fact that they can do so with impunity and no consequences builds the foundation for such shootings to take place," Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCI-Palestine, told Al Jazeera.

Since October 2015, Israeli soldiers and settlers have been responsible for the killing of at least 244 Palestinians, including unarmed demonstrators, bystanders and alleged attackers in what has been termed the "Jerusalem intifada," or Jerusalem uprising.

Thirty-six Israelis have also been killed in stabbing and shooting incidents carried out by Palestinians.

"Due to the political situation, especially the Jerusalem uprising since October 2015, the numbers have gone up, with tension and clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinians increasing," said Abu Eqtaish.

Out of the 32, 19 were between the ages of 16 and 17, while 13 were in the age group of 13 to 15 years old, according to DCIPalestine. In 2015, the total number of civilians under the age of 18 killed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, stood at 28. In 2014, 13 Palestinian children were killed, while 4 were killed in 2013.

"It is very rare that any investigations are opened on the killings. There has only been one incident in 2014-that of Nadim Nuwara-in which a soldier was charged," said Abu Eqtaish.

On May 15, 2014, video footage showed Israeli forces firing live bullets at two unarmed Palestinian boys, Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Mahmoud Abu Thaher, 16, who were attending a protest outside Israel's Ofer prison, killing them.

The Israeli was charged with manslaughter, but his lawyers recently told Israeli media the charges may be dropped.

Fifteen-year-old Faris al-Bayed from the Jalazone refugee camp north of Ramallah in the West Bank was another victim of Israeli army aggression. …

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