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Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness

Jerusalem, 25 July 2018: UNRWA condemns the killing of a refugee child during a military raid in the occupied Palestinian territory  

During a large-scale incursion by the Israeli forces into Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem on July 23, a fourteen-year-old Palestine refugee student at UNRWA’s Basic Boys School in the camp was shot and killed, reportedly with live ammunition. Preliminary reports suggest he was not armed. UNRWA condemns the killing of children and calls for an independent and transparent investigation to establish the cause and circumstances of this death.

Across all 19 refugee camps in the West Bank since the beginning of 2017 until now, 10 refugees have been killed and 129 (27 minors) injured by live ammunition. All of these fatalities occurred in the context of Israeli forces' operations in and around the camps. In Deheisheh alone since the beginning of 2017, three Palestine refugees have been killed and 55 (including 13 children) injured by live ammunition.

The percentage of people injured by live ammunition in Palestine refugee camps in the West Bank has risen from 10 percent in 2013 to 40 percent of recorded injuries so far in 2018. This increasing trend since 2013 and scale of live ammunition use raises serious concerns of the potentially excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli forces.

Under international law, as the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility to adhere to international standards for the use of force in law enforcement activities, prohibiting the use of lethal force except as a last resort, in self-defense, and in response to an imminent threat of serious physical harm.

background information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.  UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection, and microfinance. 

for more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org