14 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli Forces barely three weeks into 2023, as this year looks set to surpass the last as the deadliest for Palestinians since records began to be taken in 2005.
On Monday this week, 14-year-old Omar Al-Khmour was killed by Israeli Forces early in the morning in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, while they were reportedly aiming to arrest another Palestinian and an international solidarity activist staying there.
According to Al-Khmour’s friend, who spoke to the news outlet, The New Arab, the camp’s youth “confronted the [Israeli] soldiers with stones, chasing them all the way to the main road outside of the camp and Omar was among them … [The] soldiers opened fire on their way out and wounded Omar in the head, and he was taken to the Beit Jala public hospital where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later”.
The teen’s friends reportedly found a hand-written letter on a paper of a school notebook in his pocket, in which he urged Palestinians “to be aware that we live under Occupation, to continue the struggle, and not to leave my mother alone.”
Far from the incident being an outlier, Al-Khmour became the fourteenth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2023, as well as the third young Palestinian killed in Dheisheh camp within a month, after the killings of 15-year-old Adam Ayyad during a military raid two weeks ago and 26-year-old Omar Manaa in December.
On Sunday, Israeli soldiers killed Ahmed Kahala, a 45-year-old father of four, as he was driving to work with his 20-year-old son and they stopped them at an checkpoint near the town of Silwad.
The previous day, Israeli Forces also killed 24-year-old Ezedin Hamamrh and 23-year-old Amjad Khaliliyeh in the village of Jabaa in the north of the West Bank by opening fire at the car the young men were driving. That same day, 19-year-old Yazan Jaabari also succumbed to his wounds inflicted last week by Israeli Forces during their raid in the village of Kufr Dan.
2022 was branded the deadliest year for Palestinians – especially in the West Bank – since 2005, with over 226 Palestinians killed by Israeli Occupation Forces, including 53 during an 11-day-long bombing of the Gaza Strip. With 14 killings having taken place already in less than a month so far this year, the momentum of last year’s violence by the Israeli Occupation seems to carrying on into 2023, in an almost daily execution of Palestinians.
During a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on the rule of law last Thursday, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, made a blanket statement of condemning “all unlawful killings and acts by extremists, there is no justification for terrorism”. He acknowledged, though, that “settlement expansion by Israel and home demolitions and evictions are driving anger and despair”. Stressing that Israel must abide by international law. Guterres stressed that “the rule of law is at the heart of achieving a just and comprehensive peace”.
In that same UNSC meeting, Riyadh Mansour, Palestine’s Ambassador to the UN, responded by asserting that “the rule of law cannot coexist with impunity”, asking “Has any Israeli official been held accountable? Any Israeli General? Any Israeli soldier? Any Israeli settler?”