Israel accused of possible war crime after 8-year-old West Bank boy is shot in the head and killed as he ran away from IDF

Friday, May 3, 2024 - A UN human rights official has accused  Israel of committing a war crime following an investigation into the shooting of two Palestinian boys in the West Bank.

The two children, eight-year-old Adam al-Ghul and 15-year-old Basel Abu el-Wafa were shot and killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the city of Jenin in November.

Shocking CCTV footage of the incident in the West Bank showed how the pair fled from a heavily armoured IDF convoy before being gunned down.

One bullet hit Adam in the back of the head, while Basel was shot twice in the chest.

The teenager was seen struggling on the ground in agony for at least half a minute before he died - but Adam was killed instantly when he was shot in the head.

Days after the shooting last year, an official with the Palestinian Red Crescent said the children were standing on a side street of central Jenin's main thoroughfare off limits to the Israeli military as it is under the sole control of the Palestinian Authority.

But the IDF convoy passed them after having been involved in an early morning raid in Jenin in which the Israeli military claimed it killed terrorists from Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The IDF claimed that Basel was holding an explosive device when he was shot, and officials at the time said the 'suspects hurled explosives toward IDF soldiers'.

The teenager can be seen holding something in his hand at the time of the shooting, but it is not clear what the object was.

The boys cannot be seen throwing anything at the IDF convoy in CCTV footage, and most of them appeared to be running away when the gunfire rang out.

Ben Saul, a UN special rapporteur on human rights, said there was a possibility the IDF committed a war crime in killing the two boys upon reviewing materials provided by the BBC following an investigation into the incident.

The rapporteur pointed out that there may have been legal grounds for the IDF to deploy lethal force on Basel if he was in fact holding an explosive.

But he said there was no legal justification for the killing of eight-year-old Adam.

Eight-year-old Adam al-Ghul

'This appears to be a violation of the International Humanitarian Law prohibitions on deliberately, indiscriminately or disproportionately attacking civilians, a war crime, and a violation of the human right to life,' Saul told the BBC.

The IDF maintains that the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the two boys are under review.

Basel Suleiman Tawfiq Abu Al-Wafa

But there is little hope the investigation will turn up findings that could see the soldiers in question punished or reprimanded.

It comes as human rights group Amnesty International said in a recent report that there were several instances in which Israeli forces deployed disproportionate and unnecessary force against civilians in the West Bank, conducted unlawful killings, and denied medical assistance to those injured. 

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