Family of Palestinian Teen Who Lost an Eye Blame Israeli Sponge-tipped Bullet

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Izz al-Din Nadal Batasha at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, on Sunday.
Izz al-Din Nadal Batasha at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, on Sunday.Credit: Courtesy of the Batasha family

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron lost his eye after being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet shot by an Israeli soldier Friday, Palestinian reports say. The teenager had been standing in a vegetable shop while soldiers and Palestinian youths clashed nearby.

A video shows the teenager, Izz al-Din Nadal Batasha, and his 13-year-old cousin inside the store on Friday afternoon, and while it shows him being hit, it is unclear what struck him.

The cousin, Abdul Karim al-Batash, told Haaretz that he and Izz al-Din were in the store in Hebron’s Andalusia Market and saw five or six uniformed soldiers clashing with young men who were throwing stones. “We didn’t get involved, we were in the store and suddenly one of the soldiers shot at us. It was clear that he aimed at us and Izz al-Din was hit in the eye,” he said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the boy “had been in the area of a violent riot,” in which dozens of Palestinians fired rocks and stones with slingshots. Soldiers responded with crowd control measures, including sponge-tipped bullets.

The military added that soldiers did not fire the sponge-tipped bullets at storefronts or at people who were not involved. According to the statement, the army investigated the report and found that there was no direct fire at the store or those inside it.

The teenager received medical care at a hospital in Hebron, then was transferred to St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, where he underwent surgery. His father said that he lost his eye, and doctors said there had been no hope of saving it. His father added that Izz al-Din is an excellent student, and does not cause trouble or join clashes with soldiers.

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