Israeli "sponge bullet" blinds 11-year old Palestinian in one eye

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Palestine
Saturday, 15 November 2014

An 11-year-old Palestinian who was shot in the face with a "sponge bullet" during clashes in occupied East Jerusalem has been left blind in one eye, a local official told Ma’an news agency on Friday.

Mohammed Abu al-Hummus, a member in a local neighborhood committee, told Ma'an news agency that Saleh Samer Attiyeh Mahmoud was shot in the face at close range by Israeli Occupation Forces firing sponge bullets in al-Issawiya on Thursday.

He was hit directly between the eyes, causing severe bleeding to his nose and loss of sight in his left eye. The vision in his right eye is also severely damaged.

Villagers in the annexed East Jerusalem neighborhood were protesting the closure of three out of four entrances to the village by Israeli forces when the incident took place.

Meanwhile, an Israeli human rights group on Friday accused the police and paramilitary border police of "serious irregularities" in dispersing Palestinian protests in East Jerusalem.

"The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has repeatedly warned the Israeli police in recent months about serious irregularities in the conduct of police and border police in dispersing riots and demonstrations in east Jerusalem," the group said.

"Among other issues, these warnings have focused on the use of foam-tipped bullets in contravention to police regulations," it added.

"Regulations stipulate that foam-tipped bullets must only be aimed at the lower body, yet the testimonies we have received... indicate that police forces operating in East Jerusalem have fired at, and hit the faces of, residents and journalists."

Foam-tipped bullets are made from high-density plastic with a foam-rubber head, and are fired from grenade launchers.

Israeli police have been using them in Occupied Palestine and occupied East Jerusalem since the use of rubber-coated metal bullets was prohibited, but protocol explicitly prohibits firing them at the upper body.

Violent practices by Israeli soldiers as well as settlers against Palestinian children is endemic and often abetted by the authorities.

In 2013, the UN children's fund (UNICEF) reported that Israel was the only country in the world where children were "systematically tried" in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

The UNICEF report said in a 22-page report that over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, noting the rate was equivalent to "an average of two children each day."

In October, Einas Shawkat, 5, was run over and killed by an Israeli settler in Sinjil, while four other children under the age of 17 were deliberately hit and injured in similar hit and run attacks.

Other than the hit and runs, 12 children under the age of 16 were injured in the space of a month. The majority were injured in clashes with Israeli forces.

Moreover, 390 Palestinians, including 24 women and children, were imprisoned, and 327 others were detained, including 41 women and children, at Israeli military checkpoints and in Israeli-occupied territories, according to a report by the Palestine Liberation Organization for the month of October.

In the past two weeks, Israeli forces detained four Palestinian children, aged 13 to 16, for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli cars, and attempted to detain two Palestinian children, a two-year-old and a nine-year old, on suspicion of throwing stones.

According to a report by Defense for Children International (DCI) published in May 2014, Israel jails 20 percent of Palestinian children it detains in solitary confinement.

DCI said that minors held in solitary confinement spent an average of 10 days in isolation. The longest period of confinement documented in a single case was 29 days in 2012, and 28 days in 2013.

A report by B'Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – said that at the end of August 2014, 201 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners. Another 20 Palestinian minors were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally.

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority Department of Prisoner's Affairs reported in October that "dozens" of Palestinian minors jailed by Israel have been beaten or assaulted during their time in Israeli custody.

According to a report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

The report also documented dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

The most excruciating violations are seen in the psycho-physical torture methods, including the act of forcing children to sit on the investigation chair chained hand and foot and covering their entire heads with foul-smelling bags, in addition to depriving them of sleep.

In 2013, a group of seven Israeli soldiers and an officer detained a 5-year old boy after he allegedly threw a stone at a Zionist settler’s car at a checkpoint near Hebron.

Also in 2013, Israeli forces in the West Bank detained four Palestinian children aged five to nine years.

Palestinian activist Murad Ashtiye told AFP at the time that “Israeli soldiers arrest the children and tie their hands behind their backs using plastic strips," alluding to forceful mistreatment of children.

Meanwhile in Gaza, a 50-day Israeli aggression last August left at least 505 children dead, 20 percent of the total civilian death toll.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said 138 of its students were killed during the assault. The organization’s spokesperson Christopher Gunness said an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught.

The worst massacre took place in Abu Hussein School in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the north killing and injuring dozens even after the agency said that it gave the school’s coordinates to the Israelis more than 17 times so they won’t hit it.

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