An Israeli police officer who wounded a nine-year-old Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem over the weekend admitted to having used his weapon, but claimed he only fired a single sponge-tipped bullet at a wall to calibrate his sights.
According to the officer, he didn't notice that the boy, Malek Issa, had been hit in the face, and thought he may have been hit by a stone thrown by other Palestinians.
On Sunday, The Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers began looking into the incident in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, but has yet to decide whether to open an official investigation or summon the officer in question.
Issa has been hospitalized in serious condition in the intensive care unit of Hadassah hospital in Ein Kerem. According to his family, his doctors say he is highly likely to lose one of his eyes and possibly both. The family adds that the doctors say he may have suffered brain damage.
An Justice Ministry investigator met Issa's family in hospital on Sunday and obtained the boy's medical records.
His father, Wahel Issa, said there were no stones being thrown or violent protests ongoing when police opened fire. His son had been on his way home from school with his sisters. "At the spot where they got off [the bus], the police were trying to take somebody and a lot of people had gathered. There were no rocks being thrown or anything. The police saw a lot of people and fired. The boy received the bullet between the eyes," the father said.
Footage from the scene supports the family's claim, and show no unusual activity in the moments before the shooting.
Eyewitnesses also say Issa had gotten off the bus with his sisters and cousin. "He crossed the road and there were a lot of people there because of the arrest of a village resident," they said. "Nobody was throwing anything, not even Bamba," said one named Mahmoud Nasser, referring sarcastically to a popular Israeli snack.
"They were shouting at the police. Suddenly one of the policemen shot from a distance of perhaps 50 meters. I saw the boy fall before my very eyes," he concluded.
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