Ramallah, June 22, 2016 —Israeli soldiers “mistakenly” shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian, and injured four others, early Tuesday near the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.
Six teenage cousins and a driver were in a car heading home around 1:30 a.m. after a night of family fun at a swimming pool in the nearby West Bank village of Beit Sira. Israeli soldiers opened fire on them as they drove through an underpass beneath Route 443, Daoud Isam Daoud Abu Hasan, 14, one of the cousins, told Defense for Children International - Palestine.
Daoud Abu Hasan sustained a gunshot wound to the right leg, his cousin, Mahmoud Rafat Badran, died at the scene, and two of his cousins and the driver were injured. DCIP is still investigating the circumstances behind the deadly incident.
“Israeli forces enjoy near complete impunity for violence against Palestinian children and as a result their conduct has no bounds,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “When a trained soldier fires his weapon at a civilian vehicle and a child is killed, it amounts to an unlawful killing, not a mistake.”
According to an Israeli army statement, Palestinian youth threw stones and firebombs at passing cars on Route 443, injuring three civilians and damaging several cars. The road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cuts through the West Bank on privately owned Palestinian land.
“Nearby forces acted to protect further civilians from being injured and pursued the suspects,” the Israeli army said. “From the initial inquiry, it appears that uninvolved bystanders were mistakenly hit during this pursuit.”
The Israeli army said the soldiers were from the Kfir Brigade, according to Israeli media reports. An Israeli army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said the military police opened an official investigation.
Israeli authorities withheld Mahmoud Rafat Badran’s body for an autopsy, which took place on Wednesday at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir.
The incident was the second time in nine months that Israeli forces admitted to mistakenly killing a Palestinian child.
A preliminary investigation by the Israeli army into the killing of 13-year-old Abdel-Rahman Obeidallah near Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on October 5, found his shooting a mistake. A senior army official said, "A Ruger bullet was fired and did not strike well," Ynetnews, an Israeli news website, reported.
Badran’s death raised the number of killed Palestinian children from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip to 24 in 2016, all except one at the hands of Israeli forces. Eighteen of them allegedly carried out knife, gun, or car ramming attacks.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported more than 598 Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory sustained injuries.
Accountability for shootings by Israeli forces remains extremely rare. Israeli authorities have rejected opening full and transparent investigations into most of the recent incidents.
While the military police opened an official investigation into Obeidallah’s death in October last year, his father told DCIP on Tuesday that Israeli investigators neither spoke with him nor informed him of any outcome.
Since January 2014, DCIP knows of only one instance where Israeli prosecutors indicted a member of the Israeli forces, Ben Deri, for fatally shooting Nadeem Nawara with live ammunition in May of 2014.