A 13-year-old Palestinian, named Ali Abu Alia, died on Friday, December 4th, after being critically injured by Israeli troops in Almugayer, a village just northeast of Ramallah. The deadly incident occurred when Israeli soldiers came upon a group in the West Bank who began throwing stones. The Israeli soldiers responded, leading to the fatal injury.
The Palestinian Health Minister said that the teen was shot in the stomach and succumbed to their injuries later in the hospital. Palestinian officials called the killing a “war crime” and demand that Israel be held responsible for the child’s death. However, the Israeli military describes the event as dozens of rioters hurling rocks at Israeli military personnel and border police unprovoked, who responded appropriately with riot dispersal mechanisms. It denied that its soldiers used any live ammunition.
The European Union Delegation to Palestine has called for a “swift” and “full” investigation into the incident to “bring the perpetrators to justice.” UNICEF, quickly becoming involved due to Ali Abu Alia’s age, also publicly denounced the killing. The agency’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ted Chaiban, released a public statement saying that “UNICEF urges Israeli authorities to fully respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all children and refrain from using violence against children, in accordance with international law.”
Unfortunately, violent clashes in the West Bank are common, especially between young Palestinians and Israeli forces. Israeli soldiers, according to Palestine, frequently enter Palestinian controlled areas of the occupied west bank. They have also been known to raid nearby Palestinian towns to arrest people suspected of orchestrating or participating in alleged attacks.
Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned Israel’s continued response to Palestinian protests and events. They claim that these altercations frequently result in civilian casualties and are evidence of the Israeli army’s “shoot-to-kill” policy that encourages “extrajudicial killings.” Although COVID-19 has decreased the number of protests, thereby also civilian casualties, there have still been at least 28 Palestinian civilian deaths this year.
Over 400,000 settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast war. It is also home to more than 2.8 million Palestinians. These frequent and deadly altercations cannot continue. While the conflict between Israel and Palestine is prolonged and complicated, there must be an increased effort to ensure civilians’ safety and protection. Ali Abu Alia’s death and any other violence against children is inexcusable.
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