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Video appears to show cop shooting Sheikh Jarrah girl in back with sponge round

Officer suspended as incident is probed; clip shows 16-year-old girl shot as she enters her East Jerusalem home, with stun grenade then thrown inside

A screenshot from video aired by the Kan public broadcaster of the moment when Janna Kiswani is hit in the back by a rubber bullet fired by a police officer outside her home in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A screenshot from video aired by the Kan public broadcaster of the moment when Janna Kiswani is hit in the back by a rubber bullet fired by a police officer outside her home in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The Israel Police on Tuesday suspended an officer after video emerged of him apparently shooting a sponge-tipped bullet into the back of a Palestinian teenage girl in East Jerusalem as she was obeying his order to go back into her home.

In footage first aired by Kan news, Janna Kiswani, 16, and several of her relatives can be seen stepping out of the door of their home in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on May 18, as a protest was held nearby.

Video taken from a second angle shows officers outside the home, one of whom threatens “to give you one” if they didn’t go back inside.

As the family walked back inside, an officer fires his gun toward the home. In the first video, the girl is then seen collapsing and can be heard crying out after being struck in the back.

In the second video, the same officer then appears to remove a stun grenade from his vest, moments before it too was thrown into the home.

Janna’s father, Muhammad Kiswani, was also hit in the leg with a sponge-tipped bullet fired into the home, according to the Haaretz daily newspaper.

Janna Kiswani has since been in the hospital, where she is being treated for a fractured vertebra and breathing difficulties. Her recovery is expected to be lengthy.

“Right now I’m being treated by a neurologist and a surgeon, and in a few months I’ll start physical therapy,” Janna Kiswani told Kan.

Her father accused the officer of “wanting to commit murder.”

Police said the officer would not take part in “operational activities” until the matter was clarified and that it had handed over materials to the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department.

“At the end of the inquiry of the incident by the authorized authorities, the next steps in his case will be decided on,” a police statement said.

The suspension was ordered by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, the broadcaster reported.

“In this complex time the police commissioner gives full backing to officers, but will not allow any deviation from police regulations,” associates of Shabtai were quoted as saying.

The sponge-tipped bullets used by Israeli security forces are generally considered a type of “less lethal” ammunition, as they are less likely to kill a person hit by them than standard bullets, but they have still been responsible for a number of serious injuries and deaths, especially when they are aimed at a person’s head or chest.

Last year, a police officer was convicted for shooting a Palestinian in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet as he walked away from a West Bank checkpoint.

Illustrative: Israeli security forces in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on May 8, 2021. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Sheikh Jarrah, where the Kiswanis live, has been at the center of recent protests over the pending eviction of several Palestinian families from homes claimed by Jewish nationalists as part of a years-long legal fight.

The Sheikh Jarrah eviction was a central reason for the major unrest in Jerusalem earlier this month that ended up sparking an 11-day conflict between Israel and terror groups in Gaza, after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem

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