Israeli fire kills two more Palestinian children

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  August 4, 2022

Israeli occupation forces arrested a top commander of the Islamic Jihad resistance group in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Monday.

Since Friday, Israeli fire has also killed two Palestinian teens and escalated collective punishment of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

On Monday, resistance factions fired on Israeli forces as they infiltrated the camp area. Youth also threw homemade bombs toward the Israeli invaders, according to Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad.

Israeli forces invaded Islamic Jihad commander Bassam al-Saadi’s home, arresting him and firing at Palestinian citizens, injuring them.

Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Dirar Riyad Luft al-Haj Saleh with live ammunition during the raid on Monday.

At the time he was shot, Dirar and other camp residents had confronted Israeli invaders positioned some 50 meters away.

An Israeli sniper positioned on top of a residential building fired a live bullet at Dirar from approximately 90 meters away. The boy was hit in the back.

“He sustained an entry wound to his back right shoulder and the bullet expanded inside his body resulting in severe internal bleeding,” Defense for Children International-Palestine said.

He was pronounced dead minutes later.

“Israeli soldiers seemingly shoot to kill with complete disregard for international norms, perpetrating war crimes, as the international community stands silent,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCIP’s accountability program director, said.

Saraya al-Quds claimed that Dirar was a member of the “night confusion units” – demonstrators who use makeshift stun grenades to disrupt Israeli forces during raids – but it is unclear to what extent he was involved with the group.

“People familiar with [Dirar] said while he was pictured holding a gun, many boys his age do so, and it does not necessarily imply that he was involved in the shooting or was even a suspect,” Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported.

The Israeli army now fears retaliation from the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Gaza following its raid on Jenin in the West Bank.

The military shut down roads and rail traffic near the Israel-Gaza boundary fence in fear of retaliation, according to Haaretz.

The newspaper reported that Egyptian intelligence officials were holding meetings with leaders of political factions in Gaza supposedly to prevent an escalation.

Settler violence

Meanwhile, settler violence has been on the rise.

A Palestinian child was fatally shot after a Jewish settler and a soldier fired live ammunition in his direction in the village of Al-Mughayyir, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, last week.

Amjad Fashat Faheem Naser, 15, was participating in a march with about 200 other villagers against settler violence against them and their property on 29 July.

A number of Israeli soldiers were deployed in two military vehicles nearby and were joined by more. They fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and live ammunition, according to DCIP.

Settlers also arrived in the area. As they retreated, however, an armed settler remained behind a stone barrier and fired live ammunition at Palestinians 70 meters away.

In the midst of the settlers live fire, a soldier appeared 15 meters away from fleeing Palestinians and fired at them too.

“It was at this moment that Amjad sustained a gunshot wound resulting in severe internal bleeding,” DCIP said. He was shot with a live bullet in the back. Hours after being hospitalized, he succumbed to his wounds.

Whether Amjad was killed by the settler’s fire or the soldier’s fire is unclear.

“While they are civilians, Jewish settlers are issued firearms by the Israeli government and many subscribe to ultra-nationalistic beliefs that manifest in extreme violence towards Palestinians, including children,” DCIP said.

Following Amjad’s killing, the European Union’s diplomatic mission in occupied East Jerusalem proclaimed itself “saddened by yet another young victim of settler violence.”

The EU also called for a “rapid and transparent investigation,” adding that it “firmly condemns the increase in settler violence and growing number of casualties, including children.”

Brussels is well aware, however, that any Israeli investigation would be a whitewash and that the EU’s unconditional support for Israel encourages Israel to commit crimes against Palestinians with full assurance of impunity.

The killings of Amjad and Dirar bring to 18 the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli fire since the beginning of the year.

Punish Gaza

Israel claims to want to avoid an escalation with Gaza, it is in fact escalating its collective punishment measures on the population there as its siege of the coastal enclave enters its 15th year.

The Israeli army closed the Kerem Shalom checkpoint, the only place Israel allows goods in and out of Gaza, as well as the Erez checkpoint, the only crossing for people between Gaza and Israel, on Tuesday.

Dozens of Palestinian medical patients were supposed to leave Gaza on Tuesday to be treated in the West Bank.

Israel’s closure of Erez denies them access to “life-saving treatments, putting their lives at risk,” Al-Mezan, a Gaza-based human rights group, said.

Fuel shortages will also be exacerbated by Israel’s closure of Kerem Shalom. On average, Palestinians in the Strip have recently only had access to electricity for eight hours a day followed by eight hours of power cuts.

The conditions of the siege and this week’s closures have created an “unprecedented deterioration in humanitarian and living conditions” in Gaza, Al-Mezan added.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada