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‘They shot to kill’: residents of West Bank village in shock after Israeli snipers shoot 10-year-old boy in the head

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For eight years, the residents of the northern occupied West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum have protested every single Friday, rain or shine, against Israeli land confiscations and the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces.

The villagers have faced their fair share of bullets, tear gas, injuries, and even death. But nothing could have prepared them for what happened on Friday, July 12, when Israeli snipers set their sights on 10-year-old Abdul Rahman Shteiwi.

It was a normal summer Friday in the village. Following the conclusion of the afternoon prayers, residents gathered in the sweltering heat and began their march, as they always did, from the town center towards the nearby Israeli settlement of Kedumim.

They carried posters and Palestinian flags, and chanted slogans demanding that the village’s road be opened.

Abdul Rahman Shteiwi, 10, was shot in the head by Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum on Friday, July 12, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Murad Shteiwi)

“Our protests are always non-violent. We are armed only with signs and flags,” Murad Shteiwi, head of the popular resistance committee in Kafr Qaddum told Mondoweiss.

“At most, sometimes the young men throw stones in response to the soldiers, but that’s it. Never more than that.”

It wasn’t long, Shteiwi said, before the demonstration divulged into more violent confrontations, with Israeli forces firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs into the crowd.

“But this Friday, they were using live ammunition, and they weren’t just firing it in the air. They were firing it at the people,” he told Mondoweiss, adding that there were Israeli snipers targeting people.

All of a sudden, the villagers saw Abdul Rahman fall to the ground, blood spilling from his head. “He wasn’t even at the front of the clashes, there were tons of other young men in front of him. But they aimed at the child on purpose and shot him,” Shteiwi recounted.

After driving Abdul Rahman to the nearest hospital 20 kilometers away, Nablus’ Rafidia Surgical Hospital, he was rushed into surgery, where doctors spent three hours trying to control the bleeding and stabilize him.

Doctors told the boy’s family that he was shot with an expanding live bullet that exploded into more than 100 fragments after it lodged in his head, wreaking havoc on his brain and causing severe damage to three major blood vessels.

“The doctors told us that by the way he was shot, and the kind of bullet he was shot with, it is clear that the soldiers’ intention was to kill. Abdul Rahman was not supposed to live,” Shteiwi told Mondoweiss.

Middle East Eye quoted an Israeli army spokeswoman as saying that soldiers “used riot dispersal means” in the town, when questioned about the shooting of Abdul Rahman.

According to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), whose activists were present on Friday’s protest, Israeli forces denied the use of live ammunition.

However, the group said in a statement that its activists “found a 5.56 bullet case on the ground where protesters had been standing some 15 minutes before. The case was hot to the touch suggesting it had been fired that afternoon. Dozens more bullet cases were also found by villagers following the protest.”

Shteiwi insists that the shooting was intentional. “The sniper was professional, he knew what he was doing. This could not have been an accident, or just crowd control as they say,” he told Mondoweiss.

‘Indescribable feeling’

Since his surgery, Abdul Rahman was transferred to the Tel HaShomer hospital in Tel Aviv, where he has remained in a coma. His father has remained by his side and has been giving updates to the town on his son’s condition.

Shteiwi, a relative of the family, says that the entire village has been in mourning since Friday, with shops shuttering their doors, and others canceling their weddings.

“Everyone is distraught,” Shteiwi said, adding that Abdul Rahman’s mother had just undergone open heart surgery two weeks before her son was shot. “Just since Friday, we have had to take her to the hospital three times because her health keeps deteriorating,” he said.

Murad Shteiwi is a Kafr Qaddum native, and the northern West Bank coordinator of the popular resistance committee.(Photo courtesy of Murad Shteiwi)

Shteiwi told Mondoweiss that he could not begin to describe the pain of Abdul Rahman’s parents, even though it is one he himself knows well.

“My own son was shot in the leg during protests once,” he said. “The pain of watching your son get shot in front of you, it is indescribable.”

A history of violent suppression

Ever since the villagers of Kafr Qaddum began their weekly marches in 2011, they have been met with violent suppression by Israeli forces.

In the first three years, between 2011-2014, Shteiwi says two residents were disabled for life after being badly injured by Israeli forces.

One man was shot in the mouth with a tear gas canister, fracturing the bones in his face and jaw to the point where he has been unable to speak since. Another, Shteiwi says, was shot in his eyes with a rubber bullet, blinding him.

In 2014, the village was shook when a 75-year-old man participating in the demonstration suffocated and died from tear gas inhalation. He was the first “martyr” from the village.

Before 2014, Shteiwi says that soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters. But from 2014-2016, they began employing the widespread use of .22 caliber bullets, or “tutu bullets.”

The Israeli army had long classified .22 caliber rifles as crowd control weapons, but in 2001, they were banned by the Israel military advocate general as a means for crowd dispersal due to the fact that, while small, they can be lethal.

Shteiwi estimates that more than 85 people from Kafr Qaddum were injured with “tutu bullets” between 2014-2016, a large part of them children under the age of 18.

Child hit by teargas canister is taken away at Kafr Qaddum

“After we put so much pressure on the Israelis through the media and the international community, after 2016 they stopped using the tutu bullets as much,” Shteiwi said.

But at the beginning of this year, the villagers noticed the soldiers’ method of “crowd control” take a deadly turn.

“They have started to use live bullets a lot more. Just in january, they shot five guys with live bullets. One kid was shot in the neck and was in critical condition,” Shteiwi said.

In general, he said, soldiers have been shooting live ammunition into the air above the crowds. But on Friday, they were aiming directly at the people.

Why are children at the protests?

Over the years, Shteiwi has been interviewed by countless foreign journalists in regards to the protests in Kafr Qaddum.

One of the most common questions he is asked, when the injury of a child is involved, is “why was the child participating in such activities” that are known to get violent?

Expressing his frustration over such questions, which he says play into the hands of the Israeli occupation, Shteiwi told Mondoweiss: “When people ask why kids are participating, its because they are protesting what they see, what they experience every day under occupation. They feel that they are in a jail, and don’t have basic rights to live. They see that every day, so why wouldn’t they protest?”

“Our message to the international community, is when things like this happen, don’t ask why kids are in the protests, and blame us for what happens to our kids,” he continued.

“Ask instead, what are the circumstances that are forcing children to go protest in the first place? That  is where you will find your answer.”

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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13 Responses

  1. Marnie on July 16, 2019, 12:30 am

    “When people ask why kids are participating, its because they are protesting what they see, what they experience every day under occupation. They feel that they are in a jail, and don’t have basic rights to live. They see that every day, so why wouldn’t they protest?”

    Nobody questions israeli children’s participation in protests against palestinians, settler children throwing stones at palestinians, kicking them, shouting racial slurs at them; nobody questions the racist curriculum in israeli schools; nobody questions the racist policies in ‘israel’. ‘israel’ is constantly given a pass to continue and expand its illegal occupation and routine slaughter of palestinians. ‘israel’ now has the most vocal cheerleading squad in its history in the united states gov’t. The united states has done everything it can to deligitimize the palestinian people, has reps claiming they don’t exist, all insisting any critique of ‘israel’ is antisemitism and nothing more. So it shouldn’t suprise anyone what the zionist entity does on a daily basis and that includes shooting children. I can’t feel shock anymore, only sorrow and rage. I hate zionists, there isn’t such a thing as a ‘liberal zionist’ – you are with the palestinians and their rights or against them, it’s just that simple. jews don’t have rights that supercede those of anyone else. The holocaust has given some people the belief that because it happened to them, they are entitled to something that doesn’t exist, a ‘historical homeland’ that belongs to them and those who’ve been living their for millenia have to be destroyed. And the world watches and mostly stays quiet.

    • Misterioso on July 16, 2019, 10:23 am

      @Marnie

      Zionist soldiers are very good at murdering Palestinian children. However, as Hezbollah well demonstrated during two invasions/occupations of Lebanon by “Israel” that resulted in its humiliating expulsion, on the ground, where it really counts, they are mediocre at best.

    • oldgeezer on July 16, 2019, 12:46 pm

      @Marnie

      Agree 100%. Well said.

    • kroger on July 22, 2019, 10:12 am

      So well said.

    • Talkback on July 22, 2019, 11:28 am

      Marnie: “I hate zionists, …”

      I have to admit, that I have started to hate them, too. Not only because of what they do to Palestinans, but sometimes even more because of how they are tryng to deny or justify it.

      Looking into a comment section of Israeli news outlets it reminds of Nietzsche’s quote: “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”

      MW is the only place where I can maintain a reasonable amount of self control while facing the darkness of Zionist mass psychosis without getting drown in it.

      They don’t see this darkness themselves. They project it and their own hate unto others and call it antisemitism allthough it has nothing to do with real antisemitism.

  2. Elizabeth Block on July 16, 2019, 11:03 am

    Thank you, Marnie. What you said should be self-evident, but it’s not.
    And of course they were shooting to kill. They know where every bullet goes. They’ve said so.

    • Marnie on July 16, 2019, 1:48 pm

      Elizabeth – yes, the ‘soldiers’ stated they can account for every bullet. Sounds like a confession to me. And silence from the world, proving yet again that the zionist state can do whatever it wants to whomever it wants with absolutely no consequences. Pretty slick gig, that victim thing.

  3. Ossinev on July 16, 2019, 11:03 am

    @Marnie
    All well said especially” Nobody questions israeli children’s participation in protests against palestinians, settler children throwing stones at palestinians, kicking them, shouting racial slurs at them2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-bySD9nCYM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIoob_hijac

    Obviously different rules apply to “Chosen Children” who are simply playfully practicing for their Fascist future (one can only hope that a few of them will eventually escape from the Goebbels standard brainwashing and turn their backs on the Fascism instilled in them from birth ). Today stones tomorrow live bullets.

  4. Mayhem on July 16, 2019, 10:07 pm

    Of course Shteiwi would express frustration when asked why children are brought to such demonstrations; it’s putting him on the spot for failing to be a responsible parent. How can a 10 year old child know the difference between right and wrong as their brains have been addled from birth by propaganda instead of receiving of a proper education?

    These children know nothing outside their small world where they are no doubt egged on to protest in front of the cameras of the Israel bashers. They are constantly told the story that they are imprisoned because of the Israelis, and don’t have basic rights to live. This vitriol is pumped into their veins every day, so of course they protest.

    The Palestinian leadership is the guilty party for perpetuating the conflict by breeding off-spring who are force fed a diet of hate.

    • oldgeezer on July 16, 2019, 10:55 pm

      @mayhem

      Even if I were to concede your point and I don’t there is no moral or qualitative difference between that and Israeli colonists who bring or raise children in what even their government has officially declared disputed territory.

      What kind of brain dead immoral negligent adult brings a child, or decides to have a child ,in a conflict zone where armed hostilities are occurring. Those zionists are negligent and abusive. Unfit to have, or be responsible for, children. Even a half decent child protective services would take them into custody until a responsible adult was found to raise them.

      Israel is to blame for raising their children and breeding a culture which considers the illegal to be legal. The immoral to be moral. That the indigenous are invaders. That Jewish rights supercede all other rights. The evidence of that is in the murder of unarmed civilians, allowing the wounded to bleed out, the chants of death to all Arabs at the houses and stores of Israelis of Arab descent.

      All of the foregoing only meant to the extent that it matches your gutter racist tone. There are no left wing zionists. They are all racist to the core. Right wing racists like you are even worse. By a country mile.

      • Marnie on July 17, 2019, 12:09 am

        @oldgeezer

        ‘Israel is to blame for raising their children and breeding a culture which considers the illegal to be legal. The immoral to be moral. That the indigenous are invaders. That Jewish rights supercede all other rights. The evidence of that is in the murder of unarmed civilians, allowing the wounded to bleed out, the chants of death to all Arabs at the houses and stores of Israelis of Arab descent.’

        What the zionist state does to jewish children is child abuse by exposing them to unhealthy, life-threatening doses of hatred, xenophobia and the false ideology of ethnic supremacy from cradle to grave. Then scratch their heads and ask why do people hate us? Hmmm, I’ll get back to you on that.

    • Talkback on July 17, 2019, 8:55 am

      Mayhem: “How can a 10 year old child know the difference between right and wrong as their brains have been addled from birth by propaganda instead of receiving of a proper education?”

      You need to brainwash an occupier’s child. There’s no need to brainwash a child under occupation or siege. The reality that it is living in is part its proper education.

    • Tonja on July 17, 2019, 11:43 am

      sure thing… kids stay home.. so they can be abducted then burnt alive if they stupidly gets out..
      https://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/identities-admitted-mohammed/

      or maybe they should lock themselves home.. maybe even hid in some safe room in case the israeli army are up to a fun raid
      https://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/relatives-apparent-revenge/

      but hoping they don’t decide to lock you in
      https://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/383-palestinian-children-arrested-in-2011-15-in-the-last-week-alone/

      I wonder if they finally they aren’t safer being close to their parents during protests…..

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