16-year-old Amer Abu Zaytoun fourth Palestinian killed by Israeli army this week

Mouners attend the funeral of Amer Abu Zaytoun (16), killed by Israeli forces in Balata refugee camp, Nablus (Mohammed Nasser - APA Images)

Mariam Barghouti

Mondoweiss  /  January 5, 2023

Amer Abu Zaytoun, 16, was shot and killed with a bullet to the head when Israeli forces invaded Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

On Thursday, January 5, Israeli forces shot and killed Amer Abu Zaytoun, 16, from Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. Abu Zaytoun is the fourth Palestinian and the third minor to be killed this year, a continuation of last year’s lethal military campaign, Operation Break the Wave.

In 2022, 173 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank at the hands of soldiers and settlers, making it the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005.

Military invasion of a refugee camp

The 16-year-old was declared dead by 2:00 a.m., and Abu Zaytoun’s father bid him farewell at approximately 4:30 a.m., shortly before the dawn prayers.

Amer’s father was held by youth and family members as he held his son’s head in his palm while kissing his pale face.

Earlier that night, undercover Israeli special forces had invaded the refugee camp and surrounded the home of Hasan Araishi, a former political detainee.

Araishi’s home was surrounded for almost an hour before Israeli soldiers raided it. According to Araishi’s family members, the soldiers beat family members and later destroyed the home.

During the invasion of the camp, armed confrontations broke out between the Israeli army and camp youth, including members of the newly formed Balata brigade, as well as the Nablus-based resistance group, the Lions’ Den

According to local sources, the Israeli military had called for backup, and several entry points to the camp were surrounded. After injuring three youths with gunfire, Israeli forces denied medics access to the injured, forcing them to be transported in civilian cars instead.

According to Wafa News Agency, Abu Zaytoun was killed with a bullet to the head during the clashes with the Israeli army’s exchange of fire with the armed Palestinian resistance groups.

Child targets

Almost half of the Palestinian population consists of children and minors. In Balata refugee camp, they make up more than 40% of the refugee population. They are at increased risk of being killed by invading Israeli forces.

Since 2000, Israeli forces have killed 2,242 Palestinian children. Last year, Israeli forces killed 44 Palestinian children. Most of those killed were between the ages of 13 and 17. 

Most of the killings occurred when Israeli forces shot Palestinians during search-and-arrest raids. The last minor to be killed last year was Jana Zakarneh, found dead with a bullet to the head on her rooftop in Jenin on December 11 during an Israeli night raid. She, like Abu Zaytoun, was also 16.

According to human rights groups, 2021 had been the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014, but that record was broken by the intensification of Israeli violence against Palestinians in 2022.

Mourners started a funeral procession for Abu Zaytoun from Rafidia hospital in Nablus towards the teenager’s family home for a final farewell. As the slain 16-year-old’s body was carried, mourners chanted, demanding accountability for Israeli crimes and for resistance.

Mariam Barghouti is the Senior Palestine Correspondent for Mondoweiss