Two weeks after a tear gas canister struck Mohammad An-Najjar's right eye during a Gaza border protest, the 12-year-old boy learned he will never see through it again. File picture: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
Two weeks after a tear gas canister struck Mohammad An-Najjar's right eye during a Gaza border protest, the 12-year-old boy learned he will never see through it again. File picture: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Shooting of Palestinian children seems to be the norm

By Shannon Ebrahim Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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Palestinian children grow up with the chilling realisation that their lives are expendable.

If they are shot and killed by an Israeli soldier there is little likelihood of their death being investigated, and the soldier will almost never be held accountable for his or her crime.

Israeli soldiers are allowed to shoot Palestinian children, and they will always manufacture a justification for their actions. There will hardly ever be an expression of regret by either the soldier or the military top brass.

What type of world do we live in when the life of a Palestinian child is inconsequential?

Israeli Reserve General Zvika Vogel has said that Israeli occupation forces stationed at the eastern fence of Gaza deliberately kill Palestinian children based on clear killing orders. Israeli occupation forces have killed 47 Palestinian children and wounded 3696 others since the start of the protests of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege began on March 30, 2018.

But the shoot-to-kill orders are not only at the Gaza fence. The Israeli army has adopted a shoot-to-kill policy of any Palestinian they suspect of attempting to harm Israeli occupation soldiers, even when the supposed attacker is no longer actually posing a threat. But that is semantics, as Israeli soldiers regularly shoot Palestinian children even when they could not possibly be considered a threat.

Last July, soldiers shot a 10-year-old boy in the head with live ammunition as he stood innocently at the entrance to the home of a friend in his village of Qaddum. In the same month, Abd el-Rahman Shatawi was also shot in the head during a weekly demonstration in Qaddum. Doctors at the time said Shatawi had serious brain damage and was unlikely to recover.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson said, “The shooting of Shatawi was excessive use of force. Abd Rahman was not taking an active part in the protest and manifestly did not present an imminent physical threat to the Israeli army.” The UN High Commissioner said that the shooting of Shatawi is one in a long list of incidents in which children have been killed in circumstances that strongly suggest excessive force by the Israeli army.

In February, 14-year-old Mohammed Shatawi from Qaddum was also shot in the head, when he was on the way back from the village playground, and is now in a vegetative state.

Israel is the only country in the world which automatically prosecutes children in military courts, which have a 100% conviction rate. Each year the Israeli military detains and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children in military courts. The Israeli army considers 12-year-olds to be adults, and they are routinely taken from their homes in night-time raids at gunpoint, blindfolded, bound and shackled.

They are put into solitary confinement and forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language they do not understand. According to Unicef, three out of four Palestinian children experience physical violence during arrest or interrogation.

* Ebrahim is Independent Media's group foreign editor.

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