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Fortnight of bloodshed leaves two children dead, one paralyzed and others injured
Ramallah, May 29, 2014—The fatal shootings of Nadeem Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, that prompted widespread criticism of the Israeli military were followed by a fortnight of violence resulting in injuries to at least seven other children.
Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI–Palestine) collected sworn testimonies from children injured by Israeli gunfire in the weeks following the shootings of three teenage boys in the West Bank on May 15, two of whom died from their wounds. At least five other children were wounded, including one paralyzed, across the Occupied Palestinian Territory over the course of two weeks. The youngest was 13 years old.
“The fatal shooting of two teenagers last week and the international outcry that followed did not dissuade the Israeli military from using excessive force against children in the days that followed,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Palestinian children have recently experienced violence at an alarming rate, increasingly being shot by Israeli forces while unarmed and posing absolutely no threat to life."
On May 23, Mohammad S., 16, from central Gaza, was shot by Israeli soldiers as he and his brothers gathered hay 150 meters (492 feet) from the border fence. As he ran to protect his younger brothers, a live bullet entered through his right shoulder and severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down.
His younger brother Bashar, 13, remembers trying to drag him to safety. “I will never forget the sound of bullets and shells. I still remember it all. I still remember how terrified I was, how I was crawling, how Mohammad got shot and how I tried to help him but I could not,” Bashar said in a sworn affidavit to DCI-Palestine.
Bashar believes that the soldiers were firing in retaliation for an earlier gunshot that came from a nearby hill, saying, “Israeli soldiers climbed up [the hill] and started shooting at the three of us, thinking it was us who fired at them earlier.”
An Israeli army spokesperson acknowledged on Friday that Israeli forces fired in response to gunshots near the Israeli border fence with Gaza, but reported no injuries, according to Agence France Presse.
Doctors that treated Mohammad confirmed he had suffered paralysis as a result of the injury.
Like Mohammad, Amro J., 16, was shot near the border fence in Gaza. On May 17, he was returning home from a visit to his aunt, whose house sits close to the fence in southern Gaza. As he passed by a group of farmers 300 meters (984 feet) from the fence, Israeli soldiers opened fire. Amro was struck by a live bullet in his left hand.
Other Palestinian children were injured in the West Bank over the course of the fortnight. Issa H., 16, was shot in the face and leg by rubber-coated metal bullets on May 22 as he left his house to determine the cause of the sound of gunfire at 1:30 am in Balata refugee camp. Defense for Children International Palestine is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Three more children were injured in the West Bank village of Kufr Aqab after clashes erupted between residents and the Israeli army on May 21. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and live ammunition into the crowd of civilians, injuring three children: Omar L., 13, Hamza O., 14, and Yasin M., 17. According to doctors who treated Hamza after the incident, he was wounded by a .22 caliber live bullet that lodged itself in his left knee.
Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory are frequently injured by the Israeli military's use of excessive force including both crowd control weapons and live ammunition. A recent report by Amnesty International found that the use of force by the Israeli army in the West Bank is "reckless", stating that 67 children have been seriously injured by the use of live ammunition in the past three years.
DCI-Palestine has regularly reported incidents of the use of live ammunition in 2014, with four children killed since the beginning of the year. In 2013, DCI-Palestine documented five children dead and at least 35 sustaining injuries.