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Israel 'whitewashing' crime after soldier cleared of shooting 9-year-old Palestinian boy

Israeli forces in Ramallah, West Bank on 27 November 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces in Ramallah, West Bank on 27 November 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli authorities have said that the case of nine-year-old Palestinian boy, Malik Eissa, who was shot in the eye was "sad" but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone even though eyewitnesses claim that occupation soldiers had opened fire as Malik got of the school bus.

Malik was struck on the face by what appeared to be a sponge-tipped munition last February and lost vision in his left eye. According to Haaretz, at the time, an Israeli soldier admitted to having used his weapon but he claimed that he had fired the bullet against a wall.

The Israeli officer apparently did not notice that Malik had been hit on the face and claimed that he may have been hit by a stone thrown by other Palestinians. His father, Wael Eissa, disputed the claim and insisted that no stones were thrown at the time the Israeli officers opened fire.

"At the spot where they got off [the bus], the police were trying to take somebody and a lot of people had gathered. There were no rocks being thrown or anything. The police saw a lot of people and fired. The boy received the bullet between the eyes," Wael is reported saying.

Read: Israel's detention of Palestinian children amounts to torture, says new report

Footage from the scene apparently supports the family's claim, and show no unusual activity in the moments before the shooting which put Malik in a life threatening condition in the intensive care unit of Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

The family says Malik hasn't returned to school since because of recurring medical treatments and the embarrassment of being disfigured and reliant on a prosthetic eye.

9-year-old Palestinian boy, Malik Eissa, who was shot in the eye by Israeli occupation forces [Saudis2018/Twitter]

Absolving the Israeli soldier, the occupation state's Justice Ministry said that the unit for internal police investigations concluded that while the incident was "sad", there were insufficient grounds for prosecution after interviewing witnesses and reviewing video footage and other evidence.

Responding to the judgement, Wael told AP that his family had been the victims of injustice twice — first when the boy was shot and now with the investigation being closed. "When my son was shot, the members of the investigative unit came to the hospital. They were about to cry," Wael said. "They told me, 'Don't worry, those responsible for shooting him will be held accountable. But 10 months after investigating, they decided to close the file."

B'Tselem, Israel's leading human rights group, said the case "exemplifies whitewashing at work."

"Every individual case is isolated to a series of technical details, as though this was a singular incident, rather than an open fire policy," said B'Tselem. It accused police of operating within "an oppressed civilian population to enforce an occupation and annexation," leading to civilian casualties and impunity for those who harm them.

Last week the UN called for a probe into Israeli injuring of four Palestinian children in past two weeks.

Report: Israel killed 7 Palestinian minors in 2020

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