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Operation Pillar of Defense: The killing of Ahmad Abu ‘Alayan, 14, of ‘Abasan al-Jadidah, 15 November 2012

Update: In its response to B’Tselem’s report, the MAG Corps stated it would not launch an investigation of the circumstances due to the absence of suspicion of a criminal offense or a well-founded suspicion of a breach of the laws of armed conflict.

On the afternoon of 15 November 2012, an Israeli aircraft attacked an olive and lemon grove in the village of ‘Abasan al-Jadidah in the Khan Yunis district of the Gaza Strip. Ahmad Abu ‘Alayan, 14, who was working in the grove, was mortally wounded. His father’s uncle, Suliman Abu ‘Alayan, 64, was wounded by shrapnel and taken to the hospital. B’Tselem’s investigation indicated that armed Palestinians had launched rockets that morning from an olive grove near the one that was bombed by the Israeli military. However, relevant testimonies indicate that Ahmad Abu ‘Alayan and Suliman Abu ‘Alayan arrived at their own grove later, after the rocket fire, and had nothing to do with it.

The testimonies taken by B’Tselem state that on Thursday, 15 November, 14-year-old Ahmad, a tenth-grader, went out to work his family’s land, located about one kilometer east of his home. He fertilized and irrigated the plot until around 1:00 PM when he went home. After eating lunch, he returned to the grove to finish his work.

At around 2:30 PM, Suliman Abu ‘Alayan arrived at his own plot, located near the grove where Ahmad Abu ‘Alayan was working. Suliman Abu ‘Alayan finished his work and then said his afternoon prayers. He related to B’Tselem what happened next:

After I finished praying, I went over to Ahmad and was standing with him on their plot. I said to him, “Let’s go. The situation around here has gotten dangerous, because of the planes flying overhead.” While we were talking, a reconnaissance plane bombed us. I heard the sound of the missile that landed near us and caused a powerful explosion.

Suliman Abu ‘Alayan lost consciousness. A short time later, he came to and called for help. Neighboring residents took him and Ahmad Abu ‘Alayan to the hospital. Suliman Abu ‘Alayan, who had been hit by shrapnel all over his body, was discharged four days later. Ahmad Abu ‘Alayan had also been hit by shrapnel, which included a brain injury. After six days in a coma, he died of his wounds. Following is the account by his father, ‘Awad Abu ‘Alayan:

My son was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at the European Hospital because a piece of shrapnel had hit his brain. Ahmad was unconscious for six days. During that entire time, I sat by his side. I was filled with anguish, seeing my son in a state of clinical death. I kept praying he would regain consciousness and talk to me, even just simple words. I longed to hear his voice, but it didn’t happen. He died at around 11:00 o’clock on Wednesday morning, 21 November 2012.

B’Tselem applied to the IDF Spokesperson for further information about the circumstances of the incident. In response, the Military Advocate for Operational Matters informed B’Tselem on 11 April 2013 that the case-file had been closed once “no suspicion of a criminal offense or a well-founded suspicion of violation of laws of war by any military entity had been found”. The response was given without any accompanying information to support this conclusion.