Palestinian teen dies from tear gas canister injury

Relatives of Hasan Nofal mourn during the boy’s funeral in Bureij, central Gaza, on 13 February.

Ashraf Amra APA images

A 16-year-old Palestinian died on Tuesday from wounds sustained during protests along Gaza’s eastern boundary last week, the health ministry in the territory stated.

Hasan Nabil Ahmad Nofal, struck in the head by an Israeli-fired tear gas canister east of Bureij in central Gaza, is the third child to have died after being injured during Great March of Return protests on 8 February.

The other two children killed were Hamza Muhammad Rushdi Ishtaiwi, 17, and Hasan Iyad Abd al-Fattah Shalabi, 13.

Hamza Ishtwaiwi was sitting some 200 meters from the Gaza-Israel boundary fence when he was hit in the neck by a live bullet, according to Defense for Children International Palestine.

United Nations officials condemned the killing of the children during last week’s protests:
Israeli forces have killed six Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza so far this year, nearly one per week on average.

Tear gas canister deaths

Of the 15 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in 2019, three died after they were hit in the head with gas canisters during Gaza protests, including 16-year-old Hasan Nofal, who was standing with a group of youths some 150 meters from the boundary fence when he was struck in the right side of his head, fracturing his skull.

Abd al-Raouf Ismail Salha, 13, died on 14 January after being injured by a tear gas canister three days earlier, and Samir Ghazi al-Nabbahin, 47, died on 29 January after being struck by a gas canister four days earlier.

Five Palestinian children have died after being struck by tear gas canisters since the start of 2018, according to Defense for Children International Palestine.

“Tear gas canisters can become deadly weapons when they are fired and strike a child’s torso or head,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish of Defense for Children International Palestine stated.

Nearly 190 Palestinians have been killed during Great March of Return protests since their launch on 30 March last year.

Great March of Return fatalities made up the majority of the more than 300 Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza in 2018.

Of the total number of Palestinians killed last year, 60 were children and 10 were persons with disabilities, according to the human rights group Al-Haq.

“Throughout the Great March of Return protests, Israel has deliberately injured and maimed Palestinian civilians, targeting specific body parts with the intention of causing permanent injury and amputations,” Al-Haq states in a report submitted earlier this month to the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Some 6,400 people have been wounded by live ammunition during the protests, most of them in the limbs, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 120 amputations – 21 involving children – have taken place resulting from injuries sustained during the demonstrations. Twenty-two people have been paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries, and nine people have permanent vision loss.

Palestinians with disabilities killed

Three Palestinians killed during Great March of Return protests last year had psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, according to Al-Haq.

One of them was Karam Muhammad Fayyad, 26, shot in the head with a live bullet during protests east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on 28 December.

Ghanim Ibrahim Shurrab, a 44-year-old “diagnosed with a psychosocial and intellectual disability,” died on 5 November from his injuries sustained during protests the previous month.

He had been shot in the foot with a live explosive bullet, “causing severe bleeding and the rupture of arteries. As a result of his injury, [Shurrab] suffered health complications, primarily vascular toxicity, leading to his death,” according to Al-Haq.

Another Gaza man, Hussein Fathi al-Ruqub, died on 5 October last year after being shot in the stomach with a live bullet while collecting empty bottles near the Israel boundary fence.

“According to medical reports, [al-Ruqub] had suffered congenital abnormality and cerebral atrophy since birth. [Al-Ruqub] also had cognitive and linguistic disabilities,” Al-Haq states.

Palestinians with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank last year include Muhammad Subhi Anbar, shot in the stomach by a private security guard at a checkpoint in April.

“Following his death, Muhammad’s body was withheld by the Israeli authorities until 13 July 2018, when his body was released to the family in a white plastic cover, completely frozen and unfit for a dignified burial,” according to Al-Haq.

Muhammad Hussam Habali, a 22-year-old resident of Tulkarm refugee camp “born with a mental disability, causing him difficulties to recognize his surroundings and identify threats and risk consequences,” was shot in the head with a live bullet on 4 December.

Video footage of the incident shows that Habali posed no threat to soldiers and was walking away from them when he was shot from behind.

This story was updated to include quotations and data concerning tear gas canister injuries from Defense for Children International Palestine.


Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.