Jerusalem police said on Thursday that they would launch an investigation into the shooting of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy with a rubber bullet.
The announcement walked back an earlier police claim that there were no Israeli riot control activities going on in the area when Muhammad Jamal Ubeid was shot and injured below his eye.
Palestinian witnesses said that Ubeid exited a school bus near his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya when police began firing rubber bullets at nearby rioters, who were hurling rocks at Israeli vehicles.
“Following the report regarding the arrival in the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital of a wounded child from Issawiya, an additional, extensive inquiry was made, revealing that a number of masked men had thrown rocks, Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at a Border Police force that was active in Issawiya,” the police said in a statement.
“In order to prevent any harm to civilians traveling on the road to Ma’ale Adumim, the force used [crowd control munitions] in order to disperse the rioters. It remains unclear whether the child was wounded in that incident,” the statement said, noting that all of the findings from the inquiry would be handed over to the internal affairs unit.
The boy’s uncle, however, denied that any clashes took place at the time of the shooting, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
“An Israeli soldier fired a black rubber-coated bullet at the child from a close distance, injuring him under the eye,” the uncle claimed.
Following the incident, Ubeid was rushed to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus for emergency treatment. Doctors at the hospital said the boy suffered a fracture in a bone beneath his eye, and confirmed that the wound was typical of a rubber bullet strike.
The child was later transferred to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem for further treatment, Ma’an reported.
The incident comes one month after an eleven-year-old Palestinian boy lost his eye under similar circumstances during a protest in Issawiya.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have boiled over in recent months with frequent clashes between security forces and stone-throwing protesters, and a series of deadly “lone wolf” terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.