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News > Palestine

Palestinian Boy, 9, Fights for Life After Protest Shooting

  • Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters clash during a demonstration in the village of Sur Baher, the West Bank, 26 July 2019.

    Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters clash during a demonstration in the village of Sur Baher, the West Bank, 26 July 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 26 July 2019

While the Israeli army continues to deny it used live rounds to disperse the protest, an X-Ray of Abdel Rahman's head revealed the presence of metal fragments in his brain.

Nine-year-old Abdel Rahman a-Shteiwi is lying a hospital bed in an induced coma with a bandage covering his right eye and much of his forehead.

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Rahman sustained a gunshot wound to his head while playing in a neighbor's yard in his home village in the occupied West Bank, just a few hundred meters from a protest that Israeli forces cracked down on earlier this month.

Around 2 p.m. on Friday, July 12 Rahman bought some candy at the store near his home and was playing with a piece of wood outside the doors of a friend's house when the incident happened.

That Friday, like every Friday for the last eight years, residents of Kafr Qadum, a Palestinian town, were demonstrating against Israel's closure of a highway connecting the population to Nablus, the nearest city.

An Israeli officer claimed that 60 people were protesting with the "most violent behavior in eight years," and that the army responded with shots to prevent demonstrators from approaching the neighboring Israeli settlement of Kedumim, reports EFE.

"Abdel Rahman never goes to protests," his father, Yasser a-Shteiwi says, standing beside his injured son at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, Tel Aviv.

According to the Israeli rights group B'Tselem, which tracks human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank, Abdel Rahman was shot in the head with a live round from a ridge 200 meters away, where Israel soldiers were stationed.

The non-profit said the demonstration was already beginning to disperse at the time of the incident, which took place on the outskirts of town.

Israeli forces have denied using live rounds, insisting it only fired rubber-coated bullets on the crowd.

Two weeks after the incident, doctors have not yet removed the metal fragments from Abdel Rahman's head, which, according to examination, have caused severe damage to his cerebral arteries.

He has still not regained consciousness.

The young boy's chest inflates and deflates with an assisted breathing machine and he is connected to the medical equipment with a series of tubes, from his mouth, nose and chest.

"He wants to be a doctor when he is older," his father says. Yasser, who works in a bakery in the Arab town of At-Tira, has five children, Abdel Rahman his youngest.

Abdel's siblings, however, find it hard to get the necessary Israeli paperwork to visit their brother in the hospital.

Yasser massages his son's hand with olive oil.

"Doctors say recovery will take a long time and they don't know what will happen to him," Abdel Rahman's uncle Omar, who speaks Hebrew and helps his brother communicate with the doctors, says. "You have to take it very slowly and there will be a lot of work to do when he wakes up."

The Israeli armed forces affirmed that an internal investigation was reaching its final stages and the case was likely to make it to a military lawyer. They still claim that live ammunition was not used on that day in Kafr Qadum.

"The army can say what it wants, but there is evidence," Omar says. "The fragments are still in his head, doctors don't lie."

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