The police said Sunday that its internal investigations unit is probing the serious injury of a nine-year-old boy, who was apparently wounded by a sponge-tipped bullet during a police operation the previous day in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya.
“During a police operation, riot-dispersal means were used and a nine-year old minor was hurt,” the police said in a statement. “The incident has been transferred to the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department. We are sorry for the injury to the minor and wish him a speedy recovery.”
The boy, identified by his first name, Malek, was in serious condition in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem on Sunday.
“He has a fractured skull, bleeding in the brain, his left eye has not yet been treated and he will probably lose it,” his father told Channel 13 TV news. “We don’t have much hope, they gave him a one percent chance of saving the eye.”
The father said Malek had gone to a store to buy something. When he came out the door “he was hit between the eyes.”
He denied that there were demonstrations prior to the incident.
Community leaders have argued that police have unreasonably stepped up their operations in Issawiya over the past several months and employed excessive force against residents, undermining stability and stoking tensions in the neighborhood.
Police officials, however, have pushed back against the charges, asserting that the heightened operations in Issawiya directly correlate with what they describe as increased violence emanating from the neighborhood.
Since May, police have raided over 500 homes in Issawiya and arrested more than 600 residents — only about 20 of whom were indicted, Mohammed Abu Hummus, a member of the neighborhood’s Parents Committee, said in an interview earlier this year
Locals, meanwhile, have lately stepped up violence against police officers, according to Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.