Israeli Police Shoot Sponge-tipped Bullets at Two Palestinian Boys in East Jerusalem

In one of the incidents, a policeman is caught on tape inserting his weapon between the bars of a school gate and firing some five shots at children standing in the schoolyard

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Fawzi Abid, 10, who was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet while standing on his home balcony when clashes developed between Palestinian youths and the police in Isawiyeh, East Jerusalem.
Fawzi Abid, 10, who was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet while standing on his home balcony when clashes developed between Palestinian youths and the police in Isawiyeh, East Jerusalem.
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Israeli Border Police officers fired sponge-tipped bullets at two Palestinian boys in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah in two separate incident this week.

The shootings were allegedly carried out in violation of police regulations that prohibit firing at minors as well as at the upper body of individuals. 

Sixteen-year-old Mohamed Atia was shot Monday while standing in his schoolyard and his arm was fractured.

Ten-year-old Fawzi Abid was shot Tuesday while standing on the balcony of his home when clashes erupted between youths in the neighborhood and the police, sustaining an injury to his hand that required medical attention.

The police said in response that youths have been hurling stones at police officer over the past few days, including from within the school grounds. 

According to the police, the incident at the school began after a student hurled a stone during recess at a passing police vehicle. A video footage of the incident shows police officers getting out of the vehicle and pushing a man who was selling food to students at the school entrance.  

Mohamed Atia
Mohamed Atia

One of the policemen is then seen inserting his weapon between the bars of the gate at the entrance to the school and firing five shots at children in the schoolyard. Atia, who suffered hand factures, was transferred to the Hadassah University Hospital at Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem.

“He was in the yard, standing near the principal, when all of a sudden, they shot him in the hand,” the boy’s father, Awani Atia, said.

Israel Police said in response that “officers have recently faced a number of serious incidents of disturbance of the peace and stone-throwing in Isawiyah by minors, including stone-throwing from inside a high school, in which a policeman was wounded." 

Measures to disperse the rioters were employed, but officers did not identify people injured at the scene,” the police said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police officers has launched a probe into the police officer suspected of shooting a sponge-tipped bullet at a none-year-old boy in Isawiyah three weeks ago. As a result, the boy lost one of his eyes.

In recent months, the police intensified their activities in Isawiyah. The bolstered enforcement campaign included police presenc in the neighborhood almost every day, patrolling, arrests and setting up checkpoints and laying ambushes.

Isawiyah residents have accused the police of using arrests as a means of collective punishment.

In recent years, dozens of children have been wounded by sponge-tipped bullets, with many of them losing their eyes. In one incident, one teenager was killed after being shot in the head. So far, no police officer has been tried for illegal use of sponge-tipped bullets.