Palestinian Teen Wounded by Sponge-tipped Bullet Entitled to Compensation From Israel

Israel's National Security Institute awards compensation to Ahmed Abu Hummus, who was 12 when the bullet shattered his skull into fragments

Ahmed Abu Hummus, suffered brain injuries from a sponge-tipped bullet fired by Israeli police
Tali Mayer

Israel's National Security Institute on Thursday said a Palestinian teenage resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya was entitled to recompense under a law providing compensation to those injured by security forces in the course of a security-related incident.

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The Palestinian, Ahmed Abu Hummus, suffered brain injuries from a sponge-tipped bullet fired by Israeli police. At a hearing of the case, police alleged that the boy, who was 12 at the time of the incident two years ago, had been involved in stone throwing at the time of the incident.

This is the fourth time that the National Security Institute has granted compensation in similar circumstances and the second time this year. The teenager was one of dozens of East Jerusalem Palestinians who have been seriously wounded by black, sponge-tipped bullets. The bullets are used to disperse crowds and have been widely used in recent years instead of blue sponge-tipped bullets, which are less damaging.

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After being hit in the head, Abu Hummus was hospitalized with fragments in his skull and severe brain damage. He underwent a lengthy period of hospitalization and rehabilitation. He is nearly fully functional and returned home about a year ago, although his father said he has not managed to return to his prior life, and dropped out of school a month after returning to his studies.

"He wants to stay in bed all day. It's very hard for him to manage in school, and we thought that after returning home, it would be better, but it got worse," the teen's father, Tufik Abu Hummus said, adding that the family is looking for a new rehabilitation institution where he can be placed.

In the interim, last week, the National Insurance Institute recognized the teen as a victim of hostile activity, entitling him to benefits based on the extent of his disability. The state will also cover expenses related to treatment of his physical and psychological condition.

About three months ago, another Isawiya resident, Luai Abed, was awarded National Insurance benefits after losing an eye to a sponge-tipped bullet, but, unlike Abu Hummus' case, Abed was hit while standing on the balcony of his home, and it had not been alleged that involved in clashes with police. The prosecution alleged that Abu Hummus had been involved in a violent protest when he was hit.

Itay Mack, a lawyer representing the Abu Hummus family, noted that the teen was not mentioned at all in police reports from that day. Mack claimed that there was no evidence in support for the claim that his client was involved in stone throwing. Mack obtained the police records after appealing a decision by the Justice Ministry's police misconduct unit to close the case.

In 2011 and 2012, two other Palestinians who lost eyes as a result of police fire received compensations based on the same law, which relates to victims of hostile activity. Laui Abed was the third.