Israeli occupation forced fired a sponge round at a 16-year-old Palestinian from less than 10 metres away, fracturing his skull, reported human rights organisation B’Tselem.
The incident occurred on 6 January, after Israeli soldiers and Border Police forces deployed in Al-Bireh. At around 7am, local youth were throwing stones at around 15 Border Police officers combing the Al-Maqahi neighbourhood for security cameras.
Meanwhile, Fawaz ‘Abed and his friend Amjad Qar’an – both 16 years old – “were meeting to have coffee in the neighbourhood”, part of their morning routine before ‘Abed goes to school and Qar’an goes to his electrician’s internship.
At around 7.45am, the two boys – thinking that Israeli forces had left the area – approached an intersection but saw Border Police officers some 40 metres away.
“Some of the officers waved at them and ‘Abed waved back, in an attempt to understand what they meant,” B’Tselem stated.
“Meanwhile, two other officers came up suddenly from a side street located to the boys’ right. One officer, without any warning, fired a sponge round at ‘Abed’s head from less than 10 meters away.”
“The impact was so strong, I couldn’t breathe or see for a moment. I fell down and started writhing and thrashing,” Fawaz told B’Tselem. “I couldn’t see anything clearly.”
“I don’t know what will happen to me now. It’s scary. I’m supposed to be in the middle of my midterm exams. I’m missing school and might fail. I still don’t know when I’ll go back to school. I don’t even know whether I’ll fully recover or be stuck with medical problems that could mess up my life,” he added.
In hospital, doctors found he had a skull fracture and an intracranial hematoma, and Fawaz underwent surgery.
According to B’Tselem, “the orders issued to prevent injury and death primarily serve Israel’s security forces to keep up appearances.”
“They are no more than hollow statements. In practice, breaching the open-fire regulations is not punished and the law enforcement system is quick to whitewash such incidents.”
Violence without accountability lies at the heart of the occupation. It will continue so long as the occupation does.