Ramallah, February 14, 2019—A Palestinian teenager died Tuesday evening, four days after being struck in the head by an Israeli-fired tear gas canister.
Hassan Nabil Ahmad Nofal, 16, suffered a brain injury on February 8, during demonstrations east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central part of the Gaza Strip. He succumbed to his injuries earlier this week, on February 12.
“Tear gas canisters can become deadly weapons when they are fired and strike a child’s torso or head,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, head of Defense for Children International - Palestine’s Accountability Program. “Since the start of 2018, DCIP has documented five cases of Palestinian children who died after being struck in the head with Israeli-fired tear gas canisters.”
According to preliminary evidence gathered by DCIP, Hassan joined a group of youth participating in “Great March of Return” protests around 3:30 p.m. last Friday. The group was standing approximately 150 meters (492 feet) away from the perimeter fence when Israeli soldiers stationed inside one of the surveillance rooms fired several tear gas canisters toward them, witnesses said. The tear gas canister struck the right side of his head, fracturing his skull.
He was transported to Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital for emergency care. Hassan then underwent surgery in Shifa hospital, where he remained in critical condition.
Dr. Hazem Kahil, a neurosurgery specialist at Shifa hospital, told DCIP that the surgery was performed to stop a brain bleed. The boy was pronounced dead around 7:30 p.m. on February 12.
Hassan is among four children from the Gaza Strip and two further children from the West Bank to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year.
On the same day that Hassan was fatally injured, February 8, Israeli forces killed two other children with live ammunition: 17-year-old Hamza Ishteiwi and 13-year-old Hassan Shalbi.
Under international law, intentional lethal force may only be used when an individual presents a direct threat to life or of serious injury.
In 2018, DCIP independently verified the deaths of 56 Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli forces across the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the majority of cases, DCIP found children did not present any imminent, mortal threat or threat of serious injury when killed by Israeli forces.