Abdel-Rahman, 13, suffered injuries to his head when Israeli forces shot three rubber-coated metal bullets at his head and torso. (Photo provided by child's family)
Ramallah, September 29, 2016—Israeli forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets toward a Palestinian boy's upper body and head injuring him during clashes on September 2 near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
Around 7:30 p.m., Abdel-Rahman S., 13, was standing near the entrance to Al-Jalazun refugee camp when Israeli forces shot him in the back, head, and abdomen with rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring him. In his sworn testimony, Abdel-Rahman told Defense for Children International - Palestine that he was not participating in the clashes taking place at the time between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces.
“Israeli forces routinely misuse crowd-control weapons causing serious and fatal injuries to Palestinian children,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “While Israeli military and police guidelines prohibit Israeli forces from firing rubber-coated metal bullets at children, we regularly document the direct targeting of children by Israeli forces with these weapons.”
Abdel-Rahman began running after he felt the first rubber-coated metal bullet hit his back. As he fled, he told DCIP, “I noticed an Israeli army jeep parked not far away from me. Suddenly the back door opened and a soldier in green uniform opened fire, and I felt something hitting me hard on the right side of my head and the right side of my stomach.”
Witnesses nearby helped Abdel-Rahman, whose head was bleeding profusely, into a car and took him to a hospital in Ramallah. The hospital administered first aid treatment and then transferred Abdel-Rahman to the emergency room at Palestine medical complex. An X-ray revealed wounds and bruises on the side of his head, requiring stitches.
He remained under observation until midnight, when his condition was deemed stable enough for him to return home.
Rubber-coated metal bullets are comprised of a steel ball bearing covered with approximately 1-2 mm of hard rubber coating. They are one of several “less-lethal” crowd-control weapons used by Israeli forces to disperse protesters. Other examples include sponge-tipped bullets, tear gas canisters, water cannons, and sound grenades.
A 2013 report by human rights group B’Tselem noted that Israeli military regulations — which also apply to Israeli border police when dispersing protests in the West Bank — prohibit the firing of rubber-coated bullets at women and children. The regulations further stipulate that shots be fired from a minimum distance of 50 meters (165 feet), and never at the upper body.
Since October 2015, DCIP has documented 27 cases where Israeli forces injured Palestinian children in the upper body with crowd-control weapons. Of these children, 12 sustained injuries to the head or neck.
Two Palestinian children in the West Bank have died since October 2015 after Israeli forces fired crowd-control weapons at them. In July of 2016, 10-year-old Muhyee al-Din Tabakhi, died after Israeli border police fired a sponge-tipped bullet at his chest. Ahmad Abdullah Sharaka, 14, died in October 2015, shortly after Israeli forces fired a rubber-coated bullet at his head, causing a brain hemorrhage.
A third child, Abdel-Rahman al-Dabagh, 15, died in Gaza on September 9, after his face was struck by a flare during clashes with Israeli forces across the border. DCIP is investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.
Between September 6 and 19, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that Israeli forces injured 37 Palestinian children during clashes in the West Bank and Gaza. The majority of these injuries involved tear gas inhalation, and the remainder were from rubber-coated metal bullets or live ammunition.