'Intentional lethal force': UN experts slam Israel for killing Palestinian child
United Nations experts condemned the Israeli military for killing a Palestinian child during a protest in the occupied West Bank earlier this month, calling the shooting of 15-year-old Ali Abu Aliya a "grave violation of international law."
In a statement released on Thursday by the UN Human Rights Office, the experts called on the Israeli government to conduct an "independent, impartial, prompt and transparent civilian investigation" into the boy's death.
"The killing of Ali Ayman Abu Aliya by the Israeli Defense Forces - in circumstances where there was no threat of death or serious injury to the Israeli Security Forces - is a grave violation of international law," they said. "Intentional lethal force is justified only when the security personnel are facing an immediate threat of deadly force or serious harm."
Israeli soldiers shot Palestinian Abu Aliya in the stomach during a protest near his village of al-Mughayir in the West Bank on 4 December. He later succumbed to his wounds.
The Israeli army has said that it opened an investigation into the incident but denied that live ammunition was used against the protesters, whom it described as "rioters".
The UN statement on Thursday noted that the protest at al-Mughayir was against an "illegal settlement outpost". While it acknowledged that children were throwing rocks, it stressed that they posed no immediate danger to Israeli forces and it countered the claim that live ammunition was not used.
"Abu Aliya was hit in the abdomen with a bullet from a 0.22 Ruger Precision Rifle, fired by an Israeli soldier from an estimated 100-150 metres. He died later that day in hospital," the statement said.
"The human rights experts are unaware of any claims that the Israeli security forces were in danger at any point of death or serious injury."
The UN experts - Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and Michael Lynk, special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territory - also underscored the broader issue of mistreatment of Palestinian children.
Atrocities against children
Abu Aliya was the sixth Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2020, while more than 1,000 Palestinian minors have been wounded over the past year, according to the UN rights office.
Israeli atrocities against children raise "deep concerns" about Israel's human rights obligations as the occupying power in the Palestinian territories, Callamard and Lynk said. They also underscored that Israeli investigations into lethal use of force against Palestinians "rarely result in appropriate accountability".
"This low level of legal accountability for the killings of so many children by Israeli security forces is unworthy of a country which proclaims that it lives by the rule of law," the experts said.
The killing of Abu Aliya caused outrage among Palestinian rights advocates who said the incident was a reflection of the abuse that Palestinians endure at the hands of Israeli forces.
Earlier this month, US Congresswoman Betty McCollum denounced the shooting of the Palestinian child, calling it a manifestation of the occupation in the West Bank.
"Yesterday's death of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank by an Israeli soldier who shot the child in the abdomen is a grotesque state-sponsored killing," McCollum told MEE in a statement the day after Abu Aliya was killed.
"This senseless incident must be condemned as a direct result of Israel's permanent military occupation of Palestine."