Wounded Palestinian Boy, 14, Spends Three Days Handcuffed to Hospital Bed

The boy is expected to be released to house arrest after facing arrest for alleged involvement in throwing stones at police in East Jerusalem.

A 14-year-old boy who was shot with a sponge-tipped bullet after allegedly throwing stones spent the next three days handcuffed to his bed at Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus.

Police also questioned him in the hospital. He is slated to be released to house arrest on Monday.

The boy, O.A., was wounded last Monday while on his way home from school in East Jerusalem’s Shoafat refugee camp, his father said.

The father, who was escorting his children, said he noticed a disturbance at the local checkpoint and “asked the policemen to let us pass, not to shoot. And indeed, the policemen I spoke with didn’t shoot.”

He then told O.A. to run home with his younger brother while his father followed with the girls. But when the father got home, he learned that O.A. had been shot.

The bullet tore his left lung and caused internal bleeding, so the local clinic called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. But police stopped the ambulance at the Shoafat checkpoint and began asking questions.

“They photographed the boy, and then told his father and the medical crew that he was ‘wanted,’ so they couldn’t take him to Makassed Hospital” in East Jerusalem, said a complaint filed by Physicians for Human Rights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Only after 27 minutes did the police let the ambulance proceed to Hadassah – an “extreme and patently unreasonable” delay “with potentially dangerous medical consequences,” the complaint added.

The father said his son “was vomiting blood” while the ambulance was delayed.

“When we arrived at the hospital, they told us we couldn’t visit him, and they put on the handcuffs and cuffed him to the bed,” he said. The handcuffs stayed on for the entire three days O.A. spent at the hospital, even though two policemen were also there guarding him.

On the first night, after midnight, four policemen came to the ward, ordered the parents out and spent about 90 minutes questioning O.A., his father said.

By law, parents are entitled to be present when their minor children are questioned, but “the police do what they please,” said attorney Mohammad Mahmoud, who represents O.A.

The father said none of the medical staff tried to intervene.

“I talked to the head nurse, but she told me, ‘I can’t interfere with the police,’” he said.

Two days later, police again questioned O.A. in the hospital. While they were there, a doctor came to take him for a CT scan, but a policeman told him to “wait until we’re finished,” the complaint said.

In a separate complaint sent to Hadassah, PHR and ACRI charged that cuffing O.A. to the bed and letting him be interrogated violated medical ethics. They also said Hadassah was responsible for any harm a patient suffers on its premises.

Hadassah said it obeys the police’s orders, while also “employing medical judgment to ensure the quality of the patient’s treatment.”

A police spokesperson said the boy was filmed taking part in violent disturbances in which stones were thrown at policemen and was questioned in the hospital.

While he was in the hospital, a court denied him bail, so he remained under arrest. He was moved to jail after being released from the hospital and has since been indicted for stone-throwing.