Justice Ministry Interrogates Two Policemen Over Palestinian Child's Shooting

Nine-year-old Malek Issa lost an eye as a result of the incident, but the police officer claims he only shot at a nearby wall

Aaron Rabinowitz
Josh Breiner
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The 9-year-old Palestinian boy who was wounded in Isawiyah at Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, on February 18, 2020.
The 9-year-old Palestinian boy who was wounded in Isawiyah at Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, on February 18, 2020.Credit: Ohad Ziegenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Josh Breiner

The Justice Ministry unit that investigates police conduct said Thursday that they interrogated two officers over a shooting that wounded a 9-year-old Palestinian boy in the Isawiyah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Saturday.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 63

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The suspicion is that the sponge-tipped bullet that wounded the child, Malek Issa, was fired by one of the two officers. Issa was hit in the face and lost his vision in one eye as a consequence of the incident.

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 his children disembarked from the bus, the father said, "the police were trying to take somebody and a lot of people had gathered. There were no rocks being thrown or anything."

One of the officers admitted to having used his weapon, but claimed he only fired at a wall to calibrate his sights.

According to the officer, he didn't notice that the boy had been hit, and thought he may have been hit by a stone thrown by other Palestinians.

"The police saw a lot of people and fired. The boy took the bullet between the eyes," the father said.

Footage from the scene supports the family's claim, and showed 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.

The police said that “during an operation by the police in Isawiyah, the troops employed riot control measures during which a minor, aged about nine, was wounded. The circumstances are under investigation.”

According to internal police regulations, sponge-tipped bullets should never be used against minors. With adults, they can be used in exceptional circumstances but only toward the lower torso. 

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