Aug 29, 2013

Four teens among the wounded at Qalandia refugee camp

laith.bethlehem.08.28.13-1.jpgLaith Abu Aker, 8, from Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem was struck in the forehead by a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli forces on Monday.

Ramallah, 29 August 2013—Defense for Children International Palestine confirmed today that four Palestinian teenagers sustained injuries during violent clashes that erupted after Israeli forces raided Qalandia refugee camp, outside Ramallah, early Monday morning.

Undercover Israeli forces entered the Qalandia camp to arrest a resident and called in reinforcements when they faced heavy resistance. Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinian men and injured more than a dozen others, among them four boys ages 16 and 17, according to witnesses and news reports. Three of the teenagers that DCI-Palestine visited had gunshot wounds to their left leg. While receiving first aid, one of them found out he had been shot three times in the leg.

“Firing live ammunition in densely populated areas exhibits Israeli forces’ indifference to Palestinian life,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine. “With zero accountability, Israeli forces conduct night raids, arrests and “crowd dispersal” with impunity, which results in injury and death for Palestinians, including children.”

Palestinian youth clashed with Israeli forces at Qalandia Israeli military checkpoint, and elsewhere in the West Bank. A rubber-coated metal bullet struck a young boy in the forehead on Monday afternoon, as Israeli soldiers confronted stone throwers from Aida refugee camp near Rachel’s Tomb, outside Bethlehem. Two Palestinian police officers spotted 8-year-old Liath Abu Aker running scared and bleeding profusely, and rushed him to a nearby hospital.

Last week, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man in Jenin refugee camp and injured several others during a night raid similar to the deadly incident at Qalandia. Among the injured was a Palestinian teenager who sustained a gunshot wound to his lower torso and required emergency surgery to remove his kidney and lung, according to hospital sources.

At least 24 other children have been shot and injured by live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets or tear-gas canisters since January 2013, according to evidence collected by DCI-Palestine. During the same period, two Palestinian teens have been killed by live ammunition.

While Israeli forces regulations allow the use of these weapons for crowd control in certain narrow circumstances, only a third of these cases involve children directly participating in demonstrations where clashes with Israeli forces later occurred.

The regulations allow soldiers to use live ammunition “only under circumstances of real mortal danger,” according to a recent report by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.

Israeli forces are prohibited from firing rubber-coated metal bullets at women and children. Where firing rubber-coated metal bullets is allowed, police and military procedures state that they must only be fired from a distance of 50-60 meters (165-195 feet) and at the legs of people. The regulations prohibit directly targeting demonstrators with tear-gas canisters.

In May 2013, the average number of civilians injured by live ammunition or rubber-coated bullets more than tripled compared to this time last year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Senior Ranking Officers have stated that violations of Israeli military open-fire regulations are “exceptions rather than the norm.” However, DCI-Palestine documentation shows 42 percent of children were shot in the face or head, 21 percent in the arm or chest and 17 percent in the stomach.

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