Israeli soldiers who kill Palestinian kids must be held accountable, say UN watchdogs
The nation press services
2020-12-19 | Since 3 Month
UN human-rights watchdogs have called for an independent investigation into the killing of 15-year-old Palestinian Ali Ayman Abu Aliya in the West Bank on Dec. 4. He was shot by Israeli security forces during a protest in Al-Mughayyir by young Palestinians against the construction of an Israeli settlement. According to the UN Human Rights Office, the youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded by firing rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas and live ammunition. Michael Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories, and Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, said in a joint statement that they were “deeply troubled by the overall lack of accountability for the killings of Palestinian children in recent years.” They added: “The killing of Ali Ayman Abu Aliya by the Israeli Defense Forces – in circumstances where there was no threat of death or serious injury to the Israeli security forces – is a grave violation of international law. “Intentional lethal force is justified only when the security personnel are facing an immediate threat of deadly force or serious harm.” Abu Aliya was shot in the abdomen with a bullet and died in hospital the same night. He was the sixth child killed this year by the security forces. More than 1,000 Palestinian children were injured between Nov. 1 2019 and Oct. 31 this year.
“Children enjoy special protected rights under international law,” said Lynk and Callamard. “Each of these killings raises deep concerns about Israel’s adherence to its solemn human-rights and humanitarian-law obligations as the occupying power.”
The Israeli security forces said an investigation into Abu Aliya’s death will be carried out. However, the UN rapporteurs noted that such internal investigations of fatal shootings of Palestinians rarely result in any significant accountability. Civil-society organizations have documented 155 cases since 2013 of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers using live ammunition or crowd-control weapons. In only three of the cases were criminal charges filed, and they were later dropped in one of them. “This low level of legal accountability for the killings of so many children by Israeli security forces is unworthy of a country which proclaims that it lives by the rule of law,” said Lynk and Callamard. They urged the Israeli government to investigate this human-rights record in a fair and transparent manner that meets accepted international standards, to ensure “that children living under occupation no longer face death or injury when exercising their legitimate right to protest, and that the culture of impunity for military misconduct is ended.”