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Palestinian child in critical condition after East Jerusalem clashes

Jan. 8, 2016 7:42 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2016 12:46 P.M.)
Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem on October 13, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A 12-year-old Palestinian boy remained in critical condition on Friday evening, nearly two days after he sustained a severe head injury during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, medical sources said.

A spokesperson for Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem told Ma'an that Ahmad Abu Hummus, after undergoing surgery on Wednesday night, was "still in the intensive care unit and breathing with a machine."

She said the boy had been severely injured in the head and eye, although she was unable to confirm media reports that his injuries were directly caused by one of the Israeli army's controversial sponge-tipped bullets.

Muhammad Abu Hummas, member of a popular committee in Issawiya, told Ma’an that Israeli police had been inside the East Jerusalem neighborhood on Wednesday for around four hours.

He said that Ahmad Abu Hummus was standing in the street when he was shot by Israeli forces during the clashes.

Muhammad Abu al-Hummus highlighted that Israeli forces enter Issawiya on a near-daily basis, and that several residents -- mainly bystanders -- have been injured during Israeli police activity in the area.

According to Israeli rights group B'Tselem, sponge-tipped bullets "are made of 40-mm-diameter plastic with a sponge tip intended to reduce the bodily injury it causes."

They were introduced after the use of rubber-coated steel bullets was prohibited within Israel, and are commonly used in occupied East Jerusalem, though rarely in the West Bank.

B’Tselem said that sponge-tipped bullets, "if used according to the safety regulations, (are) less dangerous than a rubber-coated metal bullet."

However, the group said it had documented a number of instances where "police officers have fired sponge rounds unlawfully, in blatant violation of the regulations, resulting in injury to Palestinians."

A December report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) revealed that, in 2015, at least 12 Palestinians lost an eye due to due a sponge-tipped bullet in East Jerusalem alone, roughly half of these casualties being children.
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