The first Palestinian child killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2019 was struck in the head by a tear-gas canister during the suppression of protests in the Gaza Strip.
According to Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), Abdel-Raouf Ismail Mohammad Salha – just 13-years-old – was “struck on the left side of his head by an Israeli-fired tear gas canister that caused a brain injury on the afternoon of January 11”.
The child was pronounced dead from his injuries three days later in Gaza City’s Shifa hospital.
“Crowd control weapons such as tear gas canisters can become lethal weapons when fired at children, especially if the point of impact is on a child’s head or torso,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director for DCIP.
In 2018, the NGO documented “three cases where children died after tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces struck them”.
On the day in question, Abdel-Raouf was “participating in a weekly protest in the Abu Safia hill area, southeast of Beit Hanoun”. At around 4pm, while the boy was “standing approximately 150 meters (492 feet) from the perimeter fence with a group of other protesters”, Israeli forces in military jeeps from the other side of the perimeter fence “fired tear gas canisters at the group”.
“The witness saw Abdel-Raouf collapse and a wound bleeding from his head”, DCIP added.
Doctors told DCIP that “the force of impact caused a skull fracture and fragments of bone to enter the boy’s brain”.
In 2018, DCIP “independently verified the deaths of 57 Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli forces or settlers across the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, including 49 killed in the Gaza Strip.