Palestinian boy killed during Israeli operation in West Bank was unarmed, says family

Arpan Rai

The Independent  /  July 12, 2023

Abdul Rahman Hardan, 16, was shot in the head as he stood outside a hospital in Jenin, Palestinian rights groups say.

A 16-year-old Palestinian boy shot dead during the deadly raid by Israel’s forces in Jenin last week was unarmed and killed “for no reason”, his family members and eyewitnesses have said.

The teenage boy, Abdul Rahman Hardan, was among a dozen Palestinians and an Israeli soldier killed during the two-day raid – one of the most intense operations carried out in the occupied West Bank in the past two decades – when Israel’s security forces entered the refugee camp that it describes as a militant stronghold.

Preliminary reports by Palestinian rights groups said Abdul was shot in the head as he stood outside Jenin’s al-Amal hospital, a medical facility the UN earlier said had come under Israeli gunfire.

Issuing his first comment since Abdul’s death, his father Hassan Ahmad Hardan said the teenager was going to the hospital to donate blood when he encountered an Israeli military vehicle.

“He was standing in the street to cross it when they shot him in the head from the back,” he told the BBC, adding that his son was not carrying anything with him, “no stone, no weapon, nothing”.

Mr Hardan’s comments came as footage appearing to show the moment of Abdul’s death emerged.

Two eyewitnesses also told the BBC that Abdul was unarmed and was shot dead by an Israeli sniper “without any reason or justification”. The two witnesses said they were present in one of the streets in the area where Israel’s forces were deployed.

After his death Abdul was initially claimed as a member by the militant group Islamic Jihad, but Mr Hardan rejected that claim, saying his son did not belong to any armed group.

Israel has claimed that all 12 Palestinians killed in the attack were combatants. Lt Col Richard Hecht, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson, told the BBC that “every one that was killed was involved directly with terrorism. A 17-year-old may be regarded as a minor but he’s holding weapons and firing… We can show that evidence. We have pictures of all of them, and intel that they were involved.”

Israel has not yet released any evidence that would support its claim Abdul posed a threat at the time he was killed.

At least 140 people suffered injuries, including 83 who were taken to hospital for treatment, in the course of the raid.

Another Palestinian man was killed in the West Bank city of Ramallah as gun battles raged between the Israeli forces and militants in the camp last week.

Last week’s raids by Israeli forces in the West Bank were the deadliest in nearly 20 years, the UN’s humanitarian relief agency told The Independent.

The global agency dispatched staff to Jenin camp last Wednesday to assess the damage done to homes and civilian infrastructure.

More than 140 Palestinians have been killed so far this year by Israeli fire in the West Bank, according to the Associated Press’ count, with almost half of them said to be affiliated with militant groups.