IDF Makes Hospital Keep Palestinian Teen in Restraints

A 14-year-old Palestinian who was hospitalized in Israel after being shot in the leg by Israel Defense Forces soldiers has been held in arm and leg restraints since Friday, even though he is guarded 24 hours a day by two Military Police officers.

The staff and management of Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, in Petah Tikva, have failed to persuade the guards to remove the restraints.

According to the IDF, the boy was shot after trying to throw an incendiary device near his home village of Madma, south of Nablus, and is being held in restraints because he was arrested.

The teen, Taher Ouda, and his father, who is licensed to deliver domestic cooking-gas canisters, claim that Taher was delivering a canister to a home on the outskirts of the village by hand when he was shot.

Taher Ouda was wounded last Wednesday at about 6:00 P.M. His father told Haaretz that the residents of the building where the gas was being delivered had informed him of the incident, after which he took him for first aid in the village, called for a Red Crescent ambulance from Nablus, and then took him in a cab to that city. Soldiers at the Hawada checkpoint stopped the ambulance from picking up Taher, instead transfering him to a military ambulance where he again received first aid. That ambulance waited at the checkpoint for two hours for a military escort, during which time the father noticed that Taher had lost consciousness. Ouda Sr. was blocked from accompanying Taher to Schneider.

Taher was shot in two places, above and below the knee, and underwent surgery on Wednesday night. His injured leg was placed in a plaster cast, and he cannot leave his bed without assistance.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) tried all day Thursday to obtain a permit that would allow one of Taher's relatives to stay with him in the hospital. Eventually the Civil Administration issued a two-day permit, which did not include an overnight stay, to an uncle who arrived from the West Bank on Friday afternoon to discover his nephew in a single room, guarded by two MPs and chained to his bed with steel arm and leg restraints. The uncle informed PHR, which began negotiating with the IDF.

PHR board member Dr. Zvi Bentwich told the duty manager of Schneider, Dr. Dan Ben-Amitai, about the shackling on Friday evening. The latter went up the Military Police chain of command for the next day and a half, finally reaching a lieutenant colonel, in a futile attempt to have the restraints removed.

"The youth was observed with two other youths moving along the road next to Madma, with the intention of throwing incendiary devices at Israeli vehicles," a statement from the IDF said.

"IDF forces in the area began pursuing the youths in an effort to stop them. During the pursuit, [Taher Ouda] attempted to throw an incendiary device at a soldier, as a result of which he was shot. He was hospitalized in Israel as an arrestee. As a gesture, his uncle was permitted into Israel to be with him during hospital visiting hours. In all other respects, his conditions are the same as anyone else who has been arrested," the army added.

"Shackling violates all principles of treating a patient who does not pose a flight risk because he is injured and his leg is in a cast," Bentwich said.

Schneider Children's Medical Center opposes the restraint of all patients, regardless of race, religion or sex. "Yesterday, after the youth was restrained for no medical reason, the duty manager directed his release from restraints but the army opposed this directive," the hospital's spokeswoman said.