JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An 11-year-old Palestinian child shot in the face by a sponge bullet during clashes in al-Issawiya on Thursday has been left blind in one eye, a local official said.
Member of a local neighborhood committee, Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, told Ma’an that Saleh Samer Attiyeh Mahmoud, 11, was shot in the face at close range by Israeli forces firing sponge bullets in al-Issawiya during clashes.
He was hit directly between the eyes, causing severe bleeding to his nose and the loss of sight in his left eye. The vision in his right eye is also severely damaged.
Villagers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood were protesting the closure of three out of four entrances to the village by Israeli forces when the incident took place.
Sponge rounds are made from high-density plastic with a foam-rubber head, and are fired from grenade launchers.
Israeli police have been using them in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem since the use of rubber-coated metal bullets was prohibited, but protocol explicitly prohibits firing them at the upper body.
The shooting comes on a day of clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank and follows the blinding of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy the day before in clashes in the nearby East Jerusalem village of al-Issawiya.
Mayar Amran Twafic al-Natsheh, 10, was riding in her grandfather’s car with her mother, grandfather, and her sibling when a rubber-coated steel bullet smashed through the car’s window and hit her in the face.
She was taken Hadassah hospital near al-Issawiya and medical sources said she suffered a fractured skull as a result of the attack.
Mayar’s father is currently being detained by Israeli forces.
An Israeli police spokesman said he did not have any information about the incident.
The incident occurred at the Shufat refugee camp checkpoint, which is the only link between the East Jerusalem neighborhood and Jerusalem proper due to the Israeli separation’s walls path around the area, which divides it from nearby Jewish settlements as well as other Palestinian neighborhoods.
The shooting comes only a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Jordan to ease tensions in Jerusalem, which has become the site of daily protests across the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods that Israeli forces have repressed with dozens of casualties.
The incidents have come amid rising anger and tensions in Jerusalem over an Israeli offensive on Gaza that left nearly 2,200 dead over summer as well as an arrest campaign in the city itself that left hundreds of Hamas-related individuals as well as many protesters in prison.
Although Palestinians in East Jerusalem live within territory Israel has unilaterally annexed, they lack citizenship rights and are instead classified only as “residents” whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
Jerusalem Palestinians face discrimination in all aspects of life including housing, employment, and services, and are unable to access services in the West Bank due to the construction of Israel’s separation wall.
Palestinian officials have repeatedly placed the blame for the violence on Israeli leaders, who have occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.
“Mr. Netanyahu and his extremist government coalition continue to refuse the minimum requirements for peace, including acceptance of the two-state solution. Instead of pursuing peace, his government systematically violates international law in order to consolidate its Apartheid regime in Palestine,” top PLO official Saeb Erekat said in a statement in late October, in response to Israeli accusations that Palestinian officials were to blame for “inciting” violence.
“We regret all loss of life. At the same time we reiterate that the Israeli occupation of Palestine remains the main source of violence and instability in the region. Palestinian citizens continue to be oppressed, imprisoned, injured and killed by the occupation forces, with impunity and the full backing of the Israeli government,” he added.
Since occupying Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli authorities have pursued a deliberate policy of Judaization, which limits the distribution of building permits to Palestinian residents while constructing large numbers of housing units for Jewish Israelis.
The policy has also entailed the erection of checkpoints and other barriers to movement intended to separate Jerusalem from the West Bank and integrate it into Israel proper.