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Father of Palestinian girl hit by sound grenade: ‘Didn’t cops see there were kids?’

Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department to open ‘preliminary probe’ into incident that hospitalized Manwar Burqan, a deaf girl from East Jerusalem

Manwar Burqan, 11, recovers at Hadassah Hospital after being struck by a police sound grenade, alongside her father (far left) and left-wing Meretz MK Mossi Raz (center) on March 1, 2021 (Credit: Noa Pinto)
Manwar Burqan, 11, recovers at Hadassah Hospital after being struck by a police sound grenade, alongside her father (far left) and left-wing Meretz MK Mossi Raz (center) on March 1, 2021 (Credit: Noa Pinto)

Manwar Burqan, an 11-year-old deaf girl from East Jerusalem, was heading to pray with her family at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday afternoon when a sound grenade fired by a police officer smashed into her face, sending her to the hospital.

Thousands of Palestinians had gathered in the Old City entryway to celebrate al-Israa wa al-Miraj. The holiday celebrates the miraculous “night journey” of Islam’s prophet, Mohammad, from Mecca to Jerusalem.

“She was going to pray at Al-Aqsa with her mother and sisters. They were just passing by — and then it happened,” said her father, Yaqoub Burqan. “Everyone goes to Al-Aqsa during the holiday, and it’s full of women and children.”

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department, which handles allegations of police misconduct, announced it would launch a “preliminary probe” into the matter.

Palestinians and police had begun to clash near Damascus Gate earlier that afternoon. According to police, some Palestinians chanted incitement and threw stones and bottles at police on the scene.

Police dispersed groups of Palestinians with stun grenades and blasts of acrid-smelling high-pressure water from cannons. Dozens of passersby, including women, children and a man in a wheelchair, fled for cover.

One of the sound grenades smashed in the face of 11-year-old Burqan. Medics immediately rushed her to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in moderate condition, according to a Hadassah spokesperson.

“When it started, everyone fled in all directions. They lost her in the crowd, everyone split up, and no one knew where she was,” Burqan’s father said.

Manwar lives in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. She is mostly deaf and mute, although she has a cochlear implant that slightly aids her hearing, according to her father.  The implant was smashed by the grenade, he said.

According to her father, Manwar entered surgery on Tuesday afternoon. But the family was still waiting for the doctors to tell them about potential long-term effects, he said.

Around 25 Palestinians were injured during the clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Twenty Palestinians were arrested and four officers were wounded, according to Israel Police.

Clashes have repeatedly broken out between Palestinians and Israeli forces near Damascus Gate, which has become one of Jerusalem’s most highly charged areas. Tensions over the site escalated last April and May, helping to touch off the war between Israel and Hamas.

Police have repeatedly deployed foul-smelling skunk water, spraying down the entryway and the storefronts that line the boulevard. Officers have hurled sound grenades into crowds of Palestinians near the scene in an attempt to disperse them.

“It’s a terrible shame. She’s a small girl. Didn’t the police see there were kids there?” Yaqoub said.

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