Israeli Police retract: Riot-control used in Jerusalem protest — but cause of boy’s wounds still unclear

Palestinian boy, 5, hospitalized with injuries below the eye; residents say he was hit by sponge bullet fired by Border Police.

By Nir Hasson | Haaretz | Dec. 25, 2014 |

The Jerusalem Police on Thursday retracted its claim that Israeli forces did not use riot-control means to disperse a demonstration the day before in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, where a 5-year-old boy was hospitalized with facial wounds.

The police said it still could not confirm, however, whether the boy was injured as a result of these riot-disperal means.

Residents said that the boy, Mohammed Jamal Obeid, was hit with a sponge-tipped bullet while standing outside his home in the neighborhood. He was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus, for treatment of the injury below his eye.

The hospital confirmed that the boy was admitted for treatment to his face after a bullet was fired, though it described the injury as being caused by a rubber bullet. The hospital said Obeid was in moderate condition and was headed for surgery.

The police said immediately following the incident that it was not aware of officers having used riot-dispersal means such as sponge-tipped bullets in the area that day.

The police released a new statement on Thursday, indicating that riot-control means had in fact been used. The Justice Ministry department responsible for investigating police misconduct will open an investigation into the matter.

“A new and in depth examination was conducted following the reports of an injured child being hospitalized and it was found that a number of masked [protestors] threw rocks, Molotov cocktails and shot fireworks at a Border Police force operating [Wednesday] on the slopes of Isawiya, to prevent harm to citizens traveling on the road towards Ma’ale Adumim,” the police said in its statement. “The force dispersed the rioters using the means. It is not known if a child was injured during this incident. All the information was transferred to the [Justice Ministry] department for investigating the police.”

Haaretz has previously reported that the Israel Police have been using foam-tipped bullets that are harder and more powerful than some other kinds of bullets, and poses a particular danger for children and teenagers.

Isawiyah residents said Obeid was standing outside his home while Israeli police officers clashed with children and teenagers throwing stones at vehicles on nearby Ma’aleh Adumim Road.

If the Isawiyah accounts are accurate, Obeid is the second child in the neighborhood to be wounded by foam-tipped bullets fired at the upper body, a practice explicitly prohibited by police regulations.

In September another East Jerusalem resident, Mohammed Sunuqrut, a 16-year-old boy from the Wadi Joz neighborhood, died of injuries that Israeli and Palestinian sources say could only have been caused by a plastic or sponge-tipped bullet.

Other Palestinians, as well as journalists such as Israeli photographer Tali Mayer, WAFA journalist Christine Rinawi and CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman, have also been injured by sponge-tipped bullets.


Mirror Copy. Originally published at www.haaretz.com.

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