Ramallah, March 1, 2017—An Israeli soldier caused a minor injury to Mohammad Hilmi Jameel Shtaiwi, 10, striking his chest with a rubber-coated metal bullet during a weekly protest near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, on February 24.
According to the Mohammad’s sworn testimony, an Israeli soldier shot the fifth-grader from a distance of about 100 meters (328 feet), near his home in Kafr Qaddum, in the eastern part of the Qalqilya governorate. Mohammad said a weekly protest against Israel’s 14-year closure of the village’s main road was taking place at the time, but conditions were peaceful. Mohammad received first aid treatment from ambulance paramedics.
“Israeli soldiers have once again misused their crowd control weapons, striking a young child on a vulnerable part of his upper body,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International - Palestine. “In this case, the child was lucky to escape with only a small injury.”
Around 1:30 p.m., Mohammad noticed four heavily armed Israeli soldiers observing the protest from a hill, as he was leaving his home. After he returned from his errand, he saw that the soldiers had moved closer to the main road. Before he reached his house, which is located near the main road, Mohammad said that a soldier standing between some trees cocked his rifle at him. “I thought he was only trying to scare me but then he fired and I was directly hit on the upper right side of my chest, near my neck,” Mohammad said.
After being struck by the rubber-coated metal bullet, Mohammad told DCIP he collapsed on the ground, screaming. A group of youth took him to an ambulance, where paramedics assessed and treated his chest wound.
Mohammad is the second child this year to be injured on the upper body due to Israeli forces’ improper use of crowd control weapons. In 2016, DCIP documented nine cases where Israeli forces injured children’s upper bodies with crowd control weapons. Four of these injuries were from rubber-coated metal bullets and the other five were from sponge-tipped bullets.
Crowd control weapons are only “less lethal” when used at a distance of 50-60 meters (164-197 feet) and not aimed at children, as stipulated by Israel’s own military regulations.
In 2016, two children, Faris al-Bayed, 15, and Muhyee Tabakhi, 10, died as a result of being struck on the chest or head by crowd control weapons.