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In this photo provided by the United Nations, President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, is seen on screens as he addresses the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. (Manuel Elías/United Nations via AP)

UN calls for probe into Israel’s use of armed force against children

The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has called for a transparent investigation into the use of armed force by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank.

The UN Human Rights Office said that the Israeli forces critically injured at least four children with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets in separate incidents across the West Bank in the past two weeks.

“All injuries resulted from the use of potentially lethal force in circumstances where available information suggests the children did not pose a threat to life or serious injury of the soldiers or to anyone else.”

“It thus appears the force used was not in accordance with international law,” the Human Rights Office said in a statement, pointing out that a 16-year-old boy was shot in the chest and critically injured in al-Bireh city on November 29.

“On 27 November, during protests in Kafr Qaddum village in the north of the West Bank, soldiers shot a 16-year old boy in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet. The boy fell from the impact and is hospitalized with a fractured skull.”

“On November 17, a 15-year old boy on his way back from school lost his right eye after being hit by ricochet ammunition in Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem. Although there were clashes taking place between soldiers and residents of the camp, none of the available information suggests the boy would have posed a threat to anyone at the time he was shot,” it statement elaborated.

“UN Human Rights Office calls on Israel to promptly, transparently and independently investigate all instances of (Israeli army) use of force that have led to killing or injury and to hold those responsible accountable,” the statement said.

“In accordance with international law, use of lethal force is only allowed as a measure of last resort, in response to a threat to life or of serious injury. Stone-throwing does not appear to constitute such threat. In addition, force must always be used in a manner which causes the least possible harm. Shooting in the head or upper body does not appear to conform with this requirement.”

“Children enjoy special protection under international law and must be protected from violence at all times.