On Tuesday, 16 August 2011, Saad al-Majdalawi, a 17-year-old mentally disabled boy, died when he was targeted with live fire by Israel’s forces positioned on the border between Nusseirat, in the central part of the Gaza Strip, and Israel. Saad was unarmed and posed no threat to Israeli soldiers when he was shot and killed.
Abdul Rahim al-Majdalawi last saw his son on Saturday, 12 August: “Saad left the house at around 8 p.m. He did not come back that night and we assumed he had gone to visit a relative or friend. The next day, he still had not come back, so we started looking for him.
On Tuesday night, some of my relatives got news that a member of the al-Majdalawi family had been killed at the border and that the body was in Al-aqsa hospital. Nobody told me anything until 12 pm, so I went to the hospital when I heard the news from relatives and neighbors.”
Abdul Rahim went to the morgue, afraid that it was his son who had been killed: “Saad usually left home for maybe a day when he went to see relatives and friends. He had never gone missing for 3 days before. This is why I went to the hospital to see which member of the al-Majdalawi family had been killed. I viewed the body and realized that it was my son Saad. He had a bullet hole at the top of his head and his nose had been torn off by bullets. There were more wounds on his chest, shoulder, leg and left elbow.”
Abdul Rahim does not believe that Saad would have posed a threat to Israel’s forces: “I do not know how far he had been from the border when he was killed, but Saad had never caused problems for anyone. He had never harmed anyone in the house or in the neighborhood, and yet he was dead. Up until now, it is really not clear to me what happened that night. I cannot even tell the total number of bullets that were in his body. He was alone when he was killed.”
The death of Saad has been particularly hard for his father, given that they were very close: “Saad was in secondary school, but he dropped out because of his mental condition. He also had a speech impairment and was punished at school for it. He was very sociable though and liked interacting with people, even though sometimes they would laugh at him or even hit him when they heard him speak.
This made him very depressed and increased his psychological problems. We had started seeking treatment for his mental condition a month before he got killed. I wanted better treatment for him. I understood his suffering and we were very close because of this. Now, he is gone.”
The possibility of filing a legal complaint evokes strong emotions in Abdul Rahim:
“What happened to my son still makes me sad. He is gone and nothing can change that. It is very hard for me to talk about it. He was respectful and always made us laugh. The house feels empty without him. His brothers miss him very much and they are still greatly affected by his death. I wanted the best for him. I don’t believe anything will come out of a complaint or lawsuit. I do not want compensation and nobody can give me excuses for why they killed my son. I do not have faith in any legal procedures, because nobody can accuse Israel and nobody can prosecute them even when they are wrong. It is unfortunate, but nothing will come out of this.”
On 21 September 2011, PCHR submitted a civil complaint to the Ministry of Defense, which so far has not lead to a positive outcome. Additionally, on 25 September 2011, PCHR submitted a criminal complaint to the Military Prosecutor of the Israeli military, which has been rejected on 07 May 2012. On behalf of the al-Majdalawi family, PCHR also submitted an Individual Complaint to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on 10 September 2012.
The targeting and killing of a child, a protected civilian, is a war crime, as codified in Articles 8(2)(a)(i) and 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza , Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: email@example.com, Webpage