Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Six-year-old child shot in the eye in al-Fawwar refugee camp


By Julie C. - October 05, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [culture of impunity] [Hebron] [al-Fawwar Refugee Camp] [youth] [Violence against children]

 Mousab and his father at their home in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south Hebron. © Dylan Collins

Six-year-old Mousab Ismail Mustapha Saharna was shot in the eye by a rubber-coated steel bullet while walking toward his house with his family on Friday, 27 September, in al-Fawwar refugee camp, south Hebron. 

That afternoon, clashes between the camp’s youth and the Israeli military were occurring at the entrance of a camp. The military had locked the main entrance and set a checkpoint between the gate and the camp itself. Mousab’s mother, carrying her one-year-old twins and accompanied by a group Mousab’s siblings, was on her way to visit her brother, Sheikh Jibreen; however, upon seeing the checkpoint the group was forced to turn back. They intended to return home on foot. 

“As soon as they got off the bus, the army shot at them”, says Sheikh Jibreen, Mousab’s uncle. “They weren’t even any protests going on in that area.” Mousab and his 13-year-old sister were hit in the eye and in the leg respectively. 

They were immediately transported to the Abu-Hassan al-Qassam hospital in Yatta, South Hebron Hills. Lacking the necessary facilities to treat Mousab’s wound, the hospital transferred him to Hebron’s government hospital. 

Alarmed by the gravity of the injury, an eye specialist ordered a transfer to the St John's Eye Hospital in Sheikh Jarra. The transfer was not immediate, however, as the family had to wait for five hours before Mousab and his mother received permission to cross the checkpoint from the Israeli authorities. 

If he had been bleeding any heavier, Mousab could have easily died while waiting to receive permission to be treated, Mousab's uncle told the Palestine Monitor.  

After examination, the rubber bullet, still in his eye-socket 8 hours after the shooting, was finally extracted. 

Mousab is now back in his family after two days of hospitalization and the family is currently discussing the possibility of a legal procedure against those responsible for the shooting.

The family has been living in al-Fawwar refugee camp since they were evicted from Jaffour, near Beit Shemesh – now in Israel – during the Nakba. 

In an interview with the Palestine Monitor, the family said that the Israeli military harasses al-Fawwar’s residents on a daily base, entering the camp, throwing sound bombs and putting the entire camp on lockdown. 

On March 12 of this year, Mahmoud Adel Tete, a 25 year-old student, was shot with live ammunition during one of these incursions. The soldiers had entered the camp with four army jeeps, allegedly searching for the perpetrator of an attack against a settler’s car with a Molotov cocktail. The inhabitants of the camp started throwing stones at the jeeps in attempt to prevent the incursion. Panicking, the soldiers started shooting blindly into the crowd. Five other people were injured. Two major invasions of the camp, similar to the one in March, occurred in July and at the beginning of September. 

30 children shot and injured since January 2013

On Wednesday 2 October, 10-year-old Yazan Mahmoud Al-'Abd was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the al-Jalazone refugee camp just outside of Ramallah. Local youth had been throwing rocks at the Israeli soldiers in attempts to prevent them from entering the camp. At the time of writing, Yazan is still in the hospital. 

Alarmingly, youth and children are the most frequent victims of Israeli incursions in refugee camps. Karim Abu Sabeeh (17), Majd Mohammed Lahlouh (21), and Islam al-Tubassi (17), all three from Jenin refugee camps, provide an example of the fatalities with night raids by the Israeli army. 

Karim Abu Sabeeh died of wounds sustained after being shot with live ammunition by Israeli armed forces during a night incursion in the Jenin camp. The shooting occurred while the Israeli army was carrying out arrests of camp residents following violent protests. Majd Mohammed Lahlouh was shot during the same raid, in the early morning hours of Tuesday 20 August. 

Islam al-Tubassi was shot in the leg with live ammunition while the Israeli army was entering his house to arrest him. He was then beaten up, along with his mother and brother, before being dragged out in the street. According to camp residents, once outside, the Israeli army shot him another time. His body was then taken to al-Khoderia hospital in Israel, where he was declared dead upon arrival. A thirteen year-old boy, Salah Nader Ghazzawi was also shot in the leg with live-ammunition during this intervention. 

Four children, between the ages of 16 and 17, were among the 18 injured in the Qalandya refugee camp on the 26 August, when a early morning raid by undercover Israeli armed forces led to the death of three men

Three of the aforementioned youth sustained live-fire gunshot wounds. “While receiving first aid, one of them found out he had been shot three times in the leg,” according to a report by Defence for Children International—Palestine (DCI-Palestine)

Another child was wounded the same night by a rubber bullet in the Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem. 

“At least 30 children have been shot and injured [in the West Bank], including three killed, by live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets or tear-gas canisters since January 2013. While Israeli forces regulations allow the use of these weapons for crowd control in certain narrow circumstances, only a third of these cases involve children directly participating in demonstrations where clashes with Israeli forces later occurred,” reads the report by DCI-Palestine

In addition, and according to the same organization, “Israeli forces are prohibited from firing rubber-coated metal bullets at women and children. Where firing rubber-coated metal bullets is allowed, police and military procedures state that they must only be fired from a distance of 50-60 meters (165-195 feet) and at the legs of people. The regulations prohibit directly targeting demonstrators with tear-gas canisters.” 

Despite the clear nature of the regulation, 12-year-old Atta Sabbah from al-Jalazone refugee camp, was shot with live ammunition on May 2013 while trying to retrieve his school bag that was being searched by an Israeli soldier. No clashes were occurring in the area at the time. The bullet severed his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of the lower part of his body. 

Even when children suffer no physical injury from such military incursions, they remain highly traumatized by continuous harassment of their relatives by the Israeli armed forces. 

According to a 2009 study conducted by Doctors Without Borders in Gaza and Nablus (including the towns, surrounding rural villages and refugee camps):“Among children [under] 15 years old, factors strongly linked with PTSD included being witness to murder, being victim of sexual violence or physical abuse and receiving threats.

Psychological support being rather scarce in the Palestinian territories, children are left with mental wounds that remain untreated. Under the continuous state of violence imposed on them by the Israeli armed forces, children have a hard time understanding the discourse of appeasement their adult relatives, like Mousab’s uncle Sheikh Jibreen, try to strengthen.

“How could I shake hand with the man who shot at my kid? (...) They expect me to make peace with Israel. They kicked me out of my land (...). On top of that, you make me drink heartbreak and bitterness and you don’t even have mercy on my children. How can I let this new generation that take lessons from me about making peace with Israel that can see their cousin, their family, hit by the army? They won’t pay attention or listen to me after that.” 

Rather powerless to change the nature of the situation, adults struggle to preserve their children’s composure as much as possible: “We try to remain strong so the kids don’t fear, but the pain we feel is deep,” says Sheikh Jibreen. 

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