Israel’s killing of three Palestinian children in an air strike on Sunday was only the latest “in an ever-lengthening list of child fatalities at the hands of Israeli forces in unclear circumstances that may amount to an unlawful use of force”, says Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP).
According to the NGO, at approximately 6:30pm on Sunday, “an Israeli air strike killed 14-year-old Khaled Bassam Mahmoud Abu Said, 13-year-old Abdul Hamid Mohammad Abdul Aziz Abu Daher and 15-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim Abdullah Al-Sattari, east of Deir Al-Balah” in the Gaza Strrip.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society was unable to access the area until 9:30pm “due to continuous Israeli fire”. Dr. Ahmad Duheir from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital “stated that all three children were deceased when they reached the hospital, with shrapnel wounds visible all over their bodies”.
“Based on available evidence, these children’s deaths appear to amount to unlawful killings,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Programme director at DCIP.
“The UN Commission of Inquiry presents an opportunity to investigate violations that may amount to war crimes, but it must also provide accountability measures aimed at ending impunity and protecting civilians, including children, from attacks.”
“Army or states can use lethal force only when there is an imminent threat to lives,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch.
Entering a restricted area along the border, or even planting explosives there, “doesn’t mean someone’s life is at imminent threat,” Shakir said.
DCIP stated that the three are among six children killed by Israeli forces in the occupied Gaza Strip this month alone, “and at least 50 children killed by Israeli forces or settlers across the Occupied Palestinian Territory this year”.
As well as fatalities, “at least 13 children from the Gaza Strip have suffered permanent disability since the start of the year as a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Israeli forces.”