Death Of A Palestinian Teenager Sparks Demands For An Investigation Into Israeli Forces

On December 4, 2020, Ali Abu Aliya, a fourteen-year-old Palestinian, was shot by Israeli troops during a protest against Israeli occupation and land theft in the village of al-Mughayyi. Abu Aliya was taken to the Palestine Medical Center where he later died due to his wounds, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Palestinian Health Ministry states that Abu Aliya was shot by a live bullet in the abdomen but the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has adamantly denied claims of using live ammunition, as an unnamed IDF spokesperson stated, “The reports of live-fire use during the riot are not true, and claims about a number of rioters injured and one killed are known.” Instead, the IDF argues that they used Ruger bullets, which are supposedly less lethal. 

Regardless of which bullets were used in what resulted in the death of Abu Aliya and injuries to four other individuals, the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry is calling upon the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the death of Abu Aliya, which the Foreign Ministry refers to as a “war crime.” Other organizations within Palestine and even political figures outside of Palestine have spoken out about Abu Aliya’s death and, more broadly, Israel’s continued human rights abuses towards Palestinians and their military occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. Hamas issued a statement after the death of Abu Aliya affirming the need for Palestinian independence and resistance against occupation, where they stated, “We affirm the need to return to the national consensus on the option of resisting the occupation, one that is capable of responding to the crimes of the occupation and stopping the escalating attack of settlers.” Osama al-Qawasmi, the spokesman for Fatah, called on Palestinians to join together in “national unity” in response to Abu Aliya’s murder. Rashida Tlaib, the United States Congresswoman for Michigan’s 13th District, emphasized that “No child deserves to die like this.” 

The European Union (E.U.)  has also denounced the IDF’s actions in what may come to a shock to many, as the E.U. has actively bolstered the Israeli economy and even more recently pledged to include Israel in their vaccination distribution program. Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process tweeted, “Children enjoy special protection under international law and must be protected from violence” and also called the incident “shocking and unacceptable.” Similarly, the E.U. delegation to Palestine asked, “How many more Palestinian children will be subjected to the excessive use of lethal force by the Israeli security forces?” Both the E.U. delegation to Palestine and Mladenov have called for an independent investigation into the death of Abu Aliya and the Israeli security forces, demonstrating the need for accountability and justice for the wrongful and avoidable death of a child. 

The actions of the international community show a newfound approach to the injustices endured by Palestinians beginning with the forced removal of Palestinians from their land as early as the First Aliyah. At large, Israel has claimed security as the justification for the military occupation of Palestine and the continued use of violence towards Palestinians in efforts to oppress them.

If relative peace and coexistence are ever to be achieved in Israel-Palestine, the international community must uphold standards of human rights and dignity within Israel-Palestine and must participate in global nonviolent movements, such as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), when Israel fails to uphold these rights. Jewish activists in Israel and throughout the globe also play a key role in reforming local politics through their activism and can significantly change the culture of grievances and the acceptance of coexistence within Israel-Palestine. Above all, Palestinians must have a voice within international bodies of law and organizations to represent the voices and experiences of many that have been greatly silenced and oppressed for far too long.