A Briton serving in the Israeli occupation forces has been identified by the Jerusalem Post as the killer of the Palestinian boy Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan. The 17-year-old teenager from Qawarat Bani Hassan, a town located southwest of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, was shot on Tuesday.
Citing Israeli army radio, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), an independent non-governmental organisation set up to monitor Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian children, said that occupation troops shot Attallah at a junction near the Barkan settlement near the occupied West Bank town of Salfit, after he allegedly carried a knife and attempted to attack an Israeli soldier stationed at the junction.
Details of Rayan’s activities prior to his killing show that he had completed a computer science exam. An image of his exam paper was circulated by local media. Commenting on his killing, the Accountability Program Director at DCIP, Ayed Abu Eqtaish, said: “Israeli forces frequently resort to lethal force in circumstances not justified by international law. Children suspected of committing criminal acts should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.”
Under international law, intentional lethal force is only justified in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury is present. However, 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.
Attallah’s killer was identified as a British female Cpl Lian Harush. The 22-year-old travelled by herself from the UK to serve as a “lone soldier” in Israel’s occupation army. As many as 6,000 such soldiers with dual citizenship belong to the controversial programme. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin calls them “true Zionists”, while Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog has described them as “a true example of what Zionism is all about.”
Their recruitment has also been a cause of controversy. An Al Jazeera report found that far-right radical organisations in Europe were recruiting western citizens to serve in the Israeli army. Many of these foreign fighters took part in the 2014 Gaza war.
Organisations linked to the Israeli army are said to be cropping up all over Europe to enlist voluntary recruits. The organisations specialising in bringing individuals to Israel operate branches in major European cities, including London, to provide military experience and also an opportunity to take part in formal combat.
Those that don’t want to join the lone soldier programme can take part in controversial fantasy “anti-terrorism” camps in the occupied West Bank. There, tourists are given the opportunity to play the role of Israeli forces in a variety of situations, ranging from an explosion at a Jerusalem marketplace to a stabbing attack and sniper tournament
According to the Jerusalem Post, after fatally shooting Attallah, Harush called her parents in London from the scene to update them on the attack and told them she was fine. As in many previous cases in which an alleged Palestinian attacker was killed, no Israeli soldiers or civilians were injured.
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.