A Palestinian boy killed by Israeli occupation forces during protests in March was fatally injured by an explosive grenade, an investigation by the human rights group Al-Haq has found.
Adham Nidal Amara, 17, was directly injured in his face, killing him, as he took part in the rallies marking the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests east of Gaza City on 30 March.
Two other teens, Tamer Hisham Abu al-Khair, 19, and Bilal Mahmoud Shaban Najjar, 16, were shot and killed by Israeli forces while protesting in Gaza that day. A fourth person, Faris Yusif Faris Abu Hijris, 26, succumbed to wounds sustained during the protests two days later.
The injuries to Amara’s face, destroying his lower jaw, had not been seen before, even during a year of protests in which Israeli forces had inflicted what doctors said were typical of war wounds.
More than 200 Palestinians, including 44 children, have been killed during the protests and thousands more injured. Some 1,400 Palestinians were shot by live ammunition during protests on 14 May 2018 alone, the deadliest single day of protests since their launch.
The “severity of the deep injury which completely disfigured [Amara’s] jaw” made it difficult for the pathologist who performed an autopsy on the boy to determine what caused it, according to Al-Haq.
Amara was standing 150 meters from the Gaza-Israel boundary fence when he was shot. An eyewitness told Al-Haq that he saw Amara fall to the ground and recorded video of the injured boy.
“The boy’s lower jaw and mouth were completely shattered with blood profusely flowing from the wound,” the witness said. “I did not notice any traces of smoke emanating from the wound, so I thought at the time that the cause of his injury was an explosive bullet in the face.”
When Amara’s body was washed for burial, his uncle “documented that a solid light-green object had been found inside [Amara’s] mouth,” according to Al-Haq.
The rights group stated that the bullet “is consistent with a 40 mm grenade cartridge, which may be launched from a direct-fire weapon.”
Al-Haq added that the ammunition may be a type of explosive grenade prohibited under international law. The Israeli military’s use of such weaponry “may amount to war crimes,” the group stated.
Military weapons used against protesters
Amnesty International has previously documented Great March of Return protest injuries “caused by high-velocity military weapons, including Israeli-manufactured Tavor rifles and US-manufactured M24 Remington sniper rifles that shoot 7.62mm hunting ammunition, which expand and mushroom inside the body.”
The use of “weapons designed to cause maximum harm against protesters, medics and journalists who did not pose an imminent threat to life, is simply criminal,” according to Saleh Higazi, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East program.
Al-Haq has previously documented the Israeli military’s “use of unusual weapons during the [Great March of Return] such as a new type of tear gas causing seizures and fainting.”
During protests on 4 May 2018, Israeli forces dropped tear gas from drones “in areas where the wounded were being treated,” Al-Haq stated last year. The rights group “documented cases of fainting and seizures caused by tear gas inhalation, requiring treatment on location by paramedics as well as in hospitals across the Gaza Strip.”
A humanitarian worker interviewed by an independent commission of inquiry formed by the UN Human Rights Council claimed that the gas fired at protesters by Israel “appears more like a nerve agent.”
In March this year, the human rights council adopted the commission of inquiry’s findings that Israel’s use of lethal force against protesters warrants criminal investigation and prosecution.