B'Tselem: IDF troops shot Palestinian child in the head with live fire

Nine-year-old Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi remains in critical condition at Tel Hashomer's Sheba Medical Center after being shot on July 12.

IDF troops take part in operation, July 2019. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF troops take part in operation, July 2019.
 A nine-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in the head with live fire by an IDF soldier last week outside the West Bank village of Kafr Kaddum, according to B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, contradicting statements made by the IDF.
Residents of Kafr Kaddum clashed with IDF troops as they were holding demonstrations on July 12, protesting against the closure of the main access road. According to B’Tselem, protesters clashed around 200 meters from Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, a boy who was “sitting at the entrance of one of the homes on the edge of the village, playing with a piece of wood.”
As the main demonstration began to disperse at around 2:20 p.m., B’Tselem said that a soldier fired a live bullet that hit the child’s head.
“A-Shteiwi was injured last week while playing in the entrance to a home in Kafr Kaddum during the weekly demonstration in the village,” B’Tselem said in a statement. “Now hospitalized in critical condition, he is the latest victim of the reckless open-fire policy that allows soldiers to use live fire even when neither they nor anyone else is in any danger.”
He was rushed to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus, where according to Palestinian media, doctors found over 100 bullet fragments in his head. He was then transferred to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, where he remains in critical condition, sedated and ventilated in the intensive care unit.
The head of neurosurgery at Rafidiya Hospital was quoted by the Palestinian International Solidarity Movement as saying that doctors operated on a-Shteiwi for three and a half hours, and that the boy suffered a severe and traumatic brain injury.
“He had a penetrating injury in the frontal lobe on the right side, the injury was severe and there are more than 100 fragments,” he said, adding that “I have seen many gunshot wounds and they only break into a few pieces. Over 100 fragments is not normal.”
According to an IDF statement provided to The Jerusalem Post, troops responded with “crowd dispersal measures, including stun grenades and rubber bullets,” after a riot that included 60 Palestinians broke out, in which tires were burned and stones were thrown at IDF forces.
“The incident is being investigated by the commanders, and the findings will be submitted to the Military Advocate-General’s Office for review,” the statement added.
B’Tselem accused both the IDF of “completely” disregarding the open-fire regulations, and Israel’s judicial system of “whitewashing.”
“The military prides itself on regulations restricting the circumstances in which live fire may be used, while at the same time claiming that the law enforcement system will take action against soldiers who violate the regulations,” the NGO said in their statement. “A-Shteiwi is the latest victim of this policy, but unless it is changed, it is only a matter of time before the next victim is added to the list.”
According to a January report by the NGO, Israeli security forces killed 290 Palestinians in 2018, including 55 minors.
According to the report, 254 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, 34 in the West Bank (including east Jerusalem) and two within Israel.
In the Gaza Strip, two of the casualties were women and 47 were minors. According to B’Tselem, the large majority of the Palestinians (149) killed by IDF fire “did not take part in hostilities,” while 90 did. The NGO said it did not know whether another 15 had taken part in hostilities.
“These incidents are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system,” the group said at the time. “As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.”