Children, as a vulnerable population, are most at risks to the adverse effects of a conflict. This is exemplified in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where Palestinian children continue to have their rights violated due to Israel’s occupation. Palestinian children are continually targeted by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), who use excessive and indiscriminate force against civilians.
According to OCHA’s OPT Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin for November 2014, over the past year 549 children were killed, 4420 children injured, 194 children detained and 642 children were displaced by home demolitions over the OPT.
Muhammad Jamal ‘Ubaid – Al-Issawiya Village – Occupied East Jerusalem
On 24 December 2014 at approximately 12:15 pm, Muhammad, 5, was returning from his kindergarten in Al-Issawiya. The situation in Al-Issawiya was calm, and no clashes were reported in the area at that time. As Muhammad was stepping off the bus, a soldier from the IOF, who was standing about 30-meters in front of Muhammad, shot Muhammad in the face. The boy immediately fell to the ground. Four other IOF soldiers rushed to the scene next to the soldier who fired the bullet. Muhammad’s parents, who witnessed the incident, immediately put their bleeding child to the car to take him to the hospital. The soldiers tried to block the street and prevent the car from leaving; however, Muhammad’s father sounded his car horn and kept driving. The soldiers stepped out of the way, and then threw two sound bombs in the street. No one else was hurt in the incident.
Muhammad was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Al-Issawiya, but had to be rushed to the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem because of the seriousness of his condition. He had a broken cheek bone under his right eye, and had to undergo a 5-hour long surgery. At this stage, it is unclear what the impact of the injury will be on the child’s eyesight. IOF soldiers came to Hadassah Hospital in Al-Issawiya and took the testimonies of the child’s father and his uncle’s wife. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10292/2014).
Al-Haq strongly condemns the shooting of five-year old Muhammad, while he was returning home from his kindergarten. This incident is indicative of Israel’s excessive and arbitrary use of force against Palestinian civilians, including children. Israeli violations inflict not only physical injuries, but also impact the children emotionally, socially, and psychologically.
The incident is a clear breach of Muhammad’s rights under international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL). Under Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons”…and “shall be at all times be humanely treated.” Moreover, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, ” and states that “no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel or degrading treatment.” Al-Haq urges Israeli authorities to carry out an immediate, transparent and impartial investigation into the incident. The soldier that shot Muhammad in the face, when there was no threat to the soldier or anyone in the area, must be held accountable.