Jenin: Palestinian boy killed during Israeli assault was unarmed – family
An unarmed 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead during Israel’s military assault on Jenin, witnesses and his family have told the BBC. After videos of the moment of his death emerged, witnesses said he was unarmed.
The two-day incursion in the occupied West Bank last week killed 12 Palestinians, including four teenage children.
Palestinians who were killed were all combatants, according to Israel.
In spite of this, the videos show Abdul Rahman Hassan Ahmad Hardan, 16, was unarmed at the time of his shooting.
On the second day of the military incursion, Israel said it was meant to eradicate “a safe haven of terrorism” in the Jenin refugee camp when the teenager was shot in the head outside al-Amal hospital.
As Palestinian armed attacks on Israelis have increased over the past year, Israeli military raids in the West Bank have intensified. This year, more than 160 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed.
The Israeli government said its military operation last week was to prevent the camp from becoming a “refuge” for armed groups. “Hundreds” of guns and other weapons were seized, including “advanced” improvised explosive devices.
It was its biggest assault in two decades in the West Bank, involving drone strikes and armoured diggers.
Palestinian leaders called it a “war crime” after the United Nations accused Israel of excessive force.
Lt Col Richard Hecht, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), told the BBC last week: “There were 12 casualties, every one of them directly involved in terrorist activity.”
A 17-year-old may be regarded as a minor, but he’s holding guns and firing. We have pictures and intelligence that they were involved.”
Abdur Rahman Hardan was claimed as a member of Islamic Jihad after his death. He has distanced himself from the claim, and Israel has yet to show evidence he was a threat when he was killed.
International law defines the use of firearms against civilians as a measure of last resort, which can only be used in response to an “imminent threat of death or serious injury”.
International humanitarian law also provides additional protections for children.
A 16-year-old boy named Abdul Rahman, who was killed during ongoing confrontations in the city, died at 13:00 (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday. Gunmen fired towards Israeli forces in some cases.
In another incident, Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli jeeps and armoured troop carriers – a common occurrence when young men attempt to repel Israeli military raids into Palestinian cities.
According to a video published by the Times newspaper, the teenager can be seen standing on the street next to al-Amal hospital with a group of boys or young men. There are rocks or debris on the ground nearby. Abdul Rahman appears unarmed and no weapons are visible.
A little over 13 seconds into the footage, which has no sound, he leans forward and looks down a street next to the hospital. Following the shooting, he is seen falling to the ground.
Although the BBC does not know where the video came from, the boy’s family and eyewitnesses verified that it showed Abdul Rahman being shot.
According to a second video filmed by a journalist outside the hospital, a paramedic rushes to Abdul Rahman and picks him up before carrying him along the street. As he is carried to the hospital entrance, the boy is suffering from a catastrophic head bleed.
There are no weapons visible in the area where the teenager fell or elsewhere in the video.
According to the IDF, the footage was inconclusive as to whether its forces killed Abdul Rahman.
According to Islamic Jihad, the 16-year-old is a fighter for the group, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the West. He posed with assault rifles in unknown social media pictures later. Jenin’s young men and teenagers often pose for such pictures.
There is a highly militarised environment in the refugee camp, where the official Palestinian leadership has lost control, and armed groups see themselves as the core of resistance to Israel’s 57-year military occupation. Minors being given weapons by militant groups has been frequently condemned by human rights organizations.
An Israeli military vehicle entered the street as Hassan Ahmad Hardan’s son was on his way to the hospital to donate blood.
Hardan said that he was standing in the street to cross it when he was shot in the head from behind.
Neither stone nor weapon were carried by him, he said.
According to his family, Abdul Rahman wasn’t a militant or affiliated with any armed group in an interview with the Times.
A BBC reporter was also told that the teenager was unarmed by two eyewitnesses.
According to one eyewitness, who asked for anonymity, “We were standing in one of the streets near occupation [Israeli] forces. After that, the occupation sniper shot the martyr Abdul Rahman without any reason or justification.”
“The martyr was unarmed and carried nothing,” he added.
Last week in Jenin, 12 Palestinians were killed, including two 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds. There were ten militant groups claiming membership in the group.
After reviewing the video, the IDF asked to receive it in its “unedited entirety”.
As of right now, it is not possible to say with certainty whether the video actually documents the neutralization of Abdul Rahman Hassan by the IDF.
According to the spokesman, earlier reports “disregarded the Islamic Jihad’s claim of responsibility for the neutralized terrorist and his association with the terrorist group.”.
“The Israeli Defence Forces operated in a densely populated and complex combat zone, where hundreds of armed gunmen fired indiscriminately in the area. The IDF does everything within its power to avoid harming uninvolved individuals and operates precisely against terrorist organizations.”