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UK citizen involved in West Bank killing of Palestinian teenager: Report

Palestinian, 17, is shot dead at Israeli guard post in occupied West Bank after allegedly approaching Israeli soldiers with knife, Jerusalem Post reports
Attallah Mohammad Rayyan, 17
Attallah Mohammad Rayyan was shot and killed by Israeli troops on 26 January (DCIP)

An Israeli soldier who was involved in an altercation that led to the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy on Tuesday was a British citizen, according to an Israeli newspaper. 

Lian Harush, originally from the UK, was guarding the Gitit Avishar junction near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, when the Palestinian teenager allegedly approached soldiers with a knife. 

Identified as Attallah Mohammad Rayyan, the teenager was from a village near Nablus in the northern West Bank. 

'Children suspected of committing criminal acts should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process'

- Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCIP

Harush told the Jerusalem Post that when she saw the 17-year-old with the knife she responded by pushing him back with her assault rifle. 

"After I knocked him back with my weapon, he went back and forth between me and my commander, trying to stab us," Harush said. 

Her commanding officer, who was not identified by name, loaded his weapon during the exchange and opened fire, the Post reported. 

"She knocked him back with her weapon a few times as I loaded a bullet and fired one shot at the man, after which we kept hitting him with our weapons," the commander told the newspaper, describing the boy's death. 

'Not justified'?

Defence for Children International - Palestine (DCIP), an independent watchdog set up to monitor Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian children, said the Israeli soldiers were wrong to use deadly force against the teenager. 

"Israeli forces frequently resort to lethal force in circumstances not justified by international law," Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

"Children suspected of committing criminal acts should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law," Eqtaish said. 

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In its statement, DCIP noted that under international law, intentional lethal force is only justified in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury is present. 

The group said that investigations and evidence collected by DCIP "regularly suggest that Israeli forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings". 

The group's findings have been backed by human rights groups and advocates, including Amnesty International and United Nations experts, among others. 

Attallah is the first Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in 2021. In 2020, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, six of whom were killed with live ammunition, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

Last month, Israeli soldiers shot Ali Abu Alia in the stomach during a protest near his West Bank village on his fifteenth birthday

United Nations experts condemned the killing, calling it a "grave violation of international law". The Israeli army said it had opened an investigation into the death but denied that live ammunition was used against the protesters that day.