A 13-year-old Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya lost his eye on Sunday after Israeli forces fired a sponge-tipped bullet at the teenager.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli police entered Issawiya leading Palestinians to hurl rocks at them. The Palestinians were then shot at.
According to the injured boy’s family, 13-year-old Nour Hamdan was struck by a sponge-tipped bullet while playing with other children on the second-floor balcony of their home.
The family told Haaretz that when Hamdan’s mother called the children to come inside due to Israeli police presence in the area, Hamdan stood up and was hit in the eye.
Hamdan, who the family said did not take part in the rock-throwing, suffered from fractures in his eye socket and other facial injuries.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), in 2014 Israeli forces began using black sponge-tipped bullets as a crowd control weapon during clashes with Palestinians. The new bullets are “twice as hard and heavy and their potential to cause injury is much greater” than the bullets used previously, according to ACRI.
The group has documented 30 cases of Palestinians being injured with sponge-tipped bullets shot by Israeli forces between July 2014 and February 2016 in occupied East Jerusalem, with at least 12 East Jerusalem residents losing an eye, half of whom were children.
In September 2014, Muhammad Sunqrat was killed after being shot by sponge-tipped bullets in the neighbourhood of Wadi Al-Joz in occupied East Jerusalem, ACRI added.
“These severe injuries indicate that treating the new sponge-tipped bullets as a non-lethal weapon is unreasonable, and that they are not an appropriate means for dispersing demonstrations and riots,” ACRI said.