'It wasn't a mistake': Palestinian boy loses eye after being shot by Israeli police
An eight-year-old Palestinian boy lost his left eye on Tuesday, a few days after being shot by Israeli police with a rubber-coated steel bullet after he stepped out from a restaurant in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to the boy's family and eyewitnesses, Malek Issa was deliberately shot between the eyes on Saturday after he bought a sandwich in the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya.
Medics said the impact of the shooting was so severe that Issa may have suffered brain damage.
"Malek is awake but his condition is difficult. The shot has caused fractures to the skull and face, and brain haemorrhage," Issa's father, Wael Issa, told Middle East Eye.
Eyewitnesses said there were no violent protests or stones being thrown when Israeli forces started firing.
Wael said Israeli forces had come to the area to detain a man, and when they saw a crowd begin to gather, they started firing at random.
Israeli police, meanwhile, said its officers had employed "riot control measures" during an operation in Issawiya.
However, footage from the scene contradicted the Israeli account, showing normal activity in the street moments before the shooting.
Israeli police have said the incident is being investigated.
The shooting comes after months of frequent raids on Issawiya, which resulted in more than 750 arrests among Palestinians.
'It wasn't a mistake'
Wael said a bus had dropped Malek and his sisters at a stop 200 metres away from their home. Their mother said they could walk home since weather conditions were suitable.
Malek went into the shop to buy a sandwich and was shot on his way out, his father said.
The officer who shot Malek claimed he was not aiming at him but rather at a wall to calibrate his sights and that he thought the boy was hit by a stone thrown by a Palestinian, according to Haaretz newspaper.
But Issa's father rejected his claims and said the officer was clearly targeting Malek.
"It wasn't a mistake. The policeman knew that he was aiming between the eyes from a close distance. It was 100 percent intentional," he told Middle East Eye.
Mohammed Abu al-Homs, a member of an Issawiya community committee, said Israeli forces have been present in the village every day for the past 10 months.
"The constant pressure on [us] is a part of a continuous policy by the occupation against all the people of Jerusalem," Abu al-Homs told MEE
In November, schools in Issawiya were shut down to protest the arrest of a 16-year-old student from school grounds.
Residents saw the incident as a breach of an agreement reached between locals and the Israeli police earlier that year stating that the latter would not operate near schools during teaching hours.
Abu al-Homs said the agreement has been violated several times.
Abu al-Homs believes that one of Israel's pressure tactics is targeting children in areas such as the head and the eyes "in order to scare and deter the young generation of Palestinians".
"This is political pressure and a barbaric targeting of children, specifically those aged between 10 and 12 who do not pose any threat," he said.
"They want to pressure this generation, particularly the students, in order to hinder the education of Palestinians, especially in Issawiya."
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.