MAP calls for urgent protection of Palestinian children after boy shot outside East Jerusalem youth centre

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is calling for urgent and immediate action to protect children in the West Bank, after an Israeli settler shot and injured a Palestinian child outside the building of our partner, the Saraya Centre, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Early in the morning of 6 April, 15-year-old Khader Gharab was shot in the shoulder in Aqabet Saraya, the street on which he lives and where MAP’s local partner, the Saraya Centre, is located. He was shot by a settler reportedly living in a building on the same street, next to the centre and close by to Khader’s house.

After the incident, Khader told local media what happened: “I was heading down the street as my dad was calling me to head home. I saw the settler standing at the front door. I walked past him and he moved his hand and harassed me. I stopped walking and the settler asked do you want to be killed. I told him if you want to kill me, kill me. He fired a bullet next to my ear then I went inside the house and he fired another one to my arm.”

After 45 minutes, ambulances arrived to treat Khader and transport him to hospital, where he is currently in a stable condition.

Khader is part of a youth group at the Saraya Centre, a local NGO and long-standing MAP partner that provides psychosocial support services and life skills sessions for young people growing up in the oppressive environment of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. The centre is supposed to be a safe space for children and young people, away from the tensions outside.

“Any Palestinian child living in East Jerusalem is at risk of being subjected to violence from Israeli forces or settlers. After what happened to Khader, every child at the Saraya Centre is scared,” said Ghader Shatat, the Saraya Centre’s Programme Coordinator.

“I always worry about our children at the centre and feel responsible to keep them safe – but I can’t. How can we protect them? Especially as the settler who shot Khader will face no accountability and even lives next door to the Saraya Centre. I saw this settler just this morning and felt even more scared.”

The shooting occurred in the context of heightened violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem’s Old City, including attacks on worshippers at the nearby Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Melanie Ward, MAP’s CEO, said: “We are all horrified by this incident. There is simply no safe space for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem, with armed settlers roaming the streets and hurting children with zero accountability. Violence, discrimination and fear are the daily reality of life for children under Israeli occupation, perpetuated by the impunity enjoyed by settlers and police alike.”

“We are wishing Khader a rapid recovery, and our thoughts are with him, his family, and all the children affected by this awful incident.”

MAP is working with Saraya Centre to ensure that children and young people at the centre are able to receive any psychosocial support they need following the incident.

“Any Palestinian child living in East Jerusalem is at risk of being subjected to violence from Israeli forces or settlers. After what happened to Khader, every child at the Saraya Centre is scared.” – Ghader Shatat, the Saraya Centre’s Programme Coordinator.

Ultimately, however, international action is urgently needed to protect Palestinian children from the very serious and growing threats of Israeli settler and military violence in the West Bank. At least 17 children have been killed and dozens injured since the beginning of the year.

Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligates Israel to protect Palestinian civilians, “especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof”. This incident must be thoroughly and independently investigated, and accountability achieved for Khader and his family.

Given Israel’s total failure to tackle settler violence – and the frequent complicity of its forces – the international community including the UK must act urgently to protect Palestinian children from harm and end impunity through all diplomatic and other means available to them.

MAP is campaigning for an end to violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, including children. Please take action today by emailing your MP

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Photo: A child nearby the Saraya Centre in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem (Credit: William Parry / MAP).

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