Salem Mohammad Sabbah

February 17, 2018: Salem Mohammad Sabbah, 17, was killed by Israeli soldiers who fired missiles and artillery shells in al-Shokah village, east of the city of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Salem was walking in the village with a group of teens when an Israeli military jet dropped a bomb, and the fired artillery shells from tanks stationed at the border, killing Mohammad and his friend ‘Abdullah Ayman Salim Irmeilat, 15, and wounding two other children.

The bombing was immediately criticized by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) as well as international human rights groups, as a ‘war crime’ by Israel and a clear violation of the obligations of an occupying power under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The PCHR said the children hit by the artillery shells were all teens under the age of 18, none of whom was associated in any way with any fighting group.

Investigations by PCHR emphasize that the shelling violates the principle of distinction and military necessity, and use of force was unjustifiable, noting that the two killed children and the other wounded were unarmed civilians who did not carry out any act that would endanger the life of Israeli soldiers.

Salem Mahmoud Abu Safra, 16, survived the airstrike, and was injured in the leg.

He told the WAFA News Agency, “We were studying together for school. But then the lights went out. There was no electricity for us to continue our studying. We began walking in the neighborhood near Rafah. We thought the area where we were walking was safe, and had no idea that Israel would be targeting us. Why would they target us?”

He was hit by shrapnel in his leg, he said that he had to crawl away to get under cover. Finally an ambulance arrived a number of hours later, and took him to the Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital.

He was then moved to the Gaza European Hospital, which is where he received word that two of his friends were killed in the airstrike.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 21:30 on Saturday, 17 February 2018, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israeli near al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City, fired around 10 artillery shells and opened fire at 4 Palestinian children.

Shrapnel of artillery shells and live bullets hit the four children in various parts of their bodies. Two of them were immediately transferred to Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah City as they ran to the west until the medical staffs evacuated them.

The doctors described their condition as moderate while the medical crews could not reach the two other children as it was very late and increasingly dangerous.

At approximately 06:15 on Sunday, 18 February 2018, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance crews managed to access the area and transfer the bodies of the two children.

Medics of the Palestinian Red Crescent said that they evacuated two wounded children, and could not find the two other children. However, in the morning, they could evacuate their bodies that were 30 to 50 meters away from the border fence with Israel. They added that the two children died after being hit with shrapnel throughout their bodies.

Salem was from al-Shokah village, east of the city of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Source: IMEMC