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UN says Israeli army's shooting of Palestinian child an 'example of excessive use of force'

Nine-year-old Abdul Rahman Shteiwi was shot in the head with a metal bullet, leaving him with severe brain damage
The Israeli army has denied using live fire to shoot at protesters in Kafr Qaddum and rejected responsibility for shooting Shteiwi (AFP)

The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called the shooting of a nine-year-old Palestinian child in the head by Israeli soldiers “an example of excessive use of force” and called on the Israeli army to conduct "an impartial investigation".

Abdul Rahman Shteiwi was shot in the forehead earlier this month with a metal bullet, according to his doctor, leaving behind a large hole and more than 100 bullet fragments in his head.

He was transferred to an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv, where scans showed he had suffered serious brain damage from which he is unlikely to recover, even if he survives.

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Shteiwi was shot on 12 July during a demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, near the city of Nablus in the illegally occupied West Bank.

Kafr Qaddum’s residents have been protesting each Friday against the closure of a main road between the village and Nablus by the Israeli army since 2000 and over the expansion of Kadumim, an illegal settlement built on the land of the Palestinian community.

In a statement on Tuesday, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the OHCHR, said "according to several credible sources" Shteiwi did not take part in the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers on 12 July.

A report by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem also came to the same conclusion.

Colville said: “He [Shteiwu] was reportedly over 100 metres away from the clashes, and manifestly did not present an imminent physical threat to the ISF (Israeli Security Forces).”

The B’Tselem investigation added that Shteiwi was shot while he was playing with a piece of wood at the entrance to a home on the outskirts of Kafr Qaddum.

The Israeli army has denied using live fire to shoot at protesters in Kafr Qaddum and rejected responsibility for shooting Shteiwi.

It said that it used “various crowd-control methods” and that “a report was received of an injured boy aged around ten,” according to the B’Tselem investigation.

Colville said that the shooting of Shteiwi “is one of the latest in a long list of incidents in the occupied Palestinian Territory in which children and juveniles have been injured or killed in circumstances that strongly suggest excessive force was used” by the Israeli army.

"Once again, we urge Israel to review the rules of engagement of its security forces, and ensure they are in line with international standards, applicable in all countries," he added.