Jerusalem Mayor Visits Palestinian Boy Who Was Shot in the Face by Policeman

Nine-year-old Malek Issa is set to undergo a third surgery to remove his left eye, hit by a sponge-tipped bullet

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Malek Issa in his hospital bed.
Malek Issa in his hospital bed. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Jerusalem's Mayor Moshe Leon visited on Saturday a 9-year-old Palestinian boy shot in the face by border police officers in East Jerusalem, a week after the incident.

The boy's father, Wael Issa, said Leon told him "I'm taking him in my own hands, tell me what you want and you'll get it, I'll take care of him like he was my own." 

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called on Leon to visit the boy at hospital, arguing his case has been largely overlooked by Israeli politicians.

According to witnesses, Malek Issa, 9, entered a shop after getting off his school bus in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah. When he exited the shop and crossed the street, he was shot in the eye with a sponge-tipped bullet and collapsed. According to witnesses, there were no clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces at the time. 

Issa is currently hospitalized in Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem and will undergo a third surgery on Sunday to remove his left eye in order to stop an inflammation from reaching his right eye and brain. According to his father, the boy suffers from pain "but is a strong kid and we'll overcome this together."

Malek Issa in the hospital after being wounded, and before the shooting.
Malek Issa in the hospital after being wounded, and before the shooting.Credit: Courtesy of Issa family

On Tuesday, investigators from the the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police officerswent to the scene of the shooting after talking to the boy’s parents in the hospital. The ministry is considering these actions as part of a probing into the incident rather than an official investigation.

Evacuation of Malek Issa after being hit by a sponge-tipped bullet in Isawiyah, February 15, 2020.

The policeman has not yet been summoned to give his own version of the events. He admitted having firing his gun, but said he fired only a single sponge-tipped bullet, in order to calibrate the sights in case he needed to use his gun later. He said he saw the bullet hit the wall, not the child, and said he believed the boy was hit by a stone or by a car.

Police regulations prohibit firing sponge-tipped rounds at children, and if fired at a human, cannot be aimed anywhere but the lower body. The regulations note that hitting the upper body from a range of 50 meters "can cause moderate to serious injuries, depending on the part of the body that was hit.” Police regulations do state that a trial shot should be fired first, but there are no details as to how this should be accomplished.

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