Four-year-old Ruqaya Ahmad Odeh Jahalin was shot and killed by Israeli forces on January 7, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine. (Photo: Courtesy of the Jahalin family)
Ramallah, January 8, 2024—Israeli forces shot and killed a four-year-old Palestinian girl sitting in the backseat of a car in the central occupied West Bank last night.
Ruqaya Ahmad Odeh Jahalin, four, was shot in the back by Israeli forces around 5:30 p.m. on January 7 while sitting in the backseat of a shared taxi van near an Israeli military checkpoint near the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine. After Ruqaya and her mother drove through the checkpoint, a car driving about 40 meters (131 feet) behind them did not stop for inspection by Israeli forces. Israeli forces opened fire on both vehicles, striking Ruqaya in the back. An Israeli military ambulance transported Ruqaya and her mother to the checkpoint, where Ruqaya’s father met them. Israeli forces interrogated Ruqaya’s father before allowing him to leave without releasing Ruqaya’s body.
“Israeli forces have installed Israeli military infrastructure, like checkpoints, all throughout the occupied West Bank. Palestinian children are at risk every time they are forced to interact with Israeli soldiers,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Israeli forces opened fire with no regard for Ruqaya’s life. This is just one example of the impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces emboldened in an environment where the international community refuses to hold them accountable.”
A Palestinian man and woman in the second car were both killed by Israeli forces.
Ruqaya is the third Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank in 2024, according to documentation collected by DCIP. An Israeli drone strike killed 17-year-old Wadea Yaser Hasan Asous in Jenin on January 7 and 17-year-old Usaid Tareq Anis Rimawi was shot and killed by Israeli forces on January 5 in Beit Rima.
84 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to documentation collected by DCIP, when the Israeli military began a full-scale military offensive on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords.
In 2023, Israeli forces and settlers killed at least 121 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Israeli forces and settlers shot and killed 102 Palestinian children with live ammunition, 14 Palestinian children were killed in drone strikes, four Palestinian children were killed by missiles fired from a U.S.-sourced Apache attack helicopter, and one child was killed in an Israeli warplane airstrike.
Under international law, intentional lethal force is only justified in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury is present. However, investigations and evidence collected by DCIP regularly suggest that Israeli forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings.