Mohammad Khalid Al-Kirdi in the Beit Jala hospital. Photo by Calum Toogood.
Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem witnessed two shootings on February, Monday 25. Two boys aged 12 and 16 were shot throughout the day amid clashes between the camp’s youth and Israeli forces, on the same day as the funeral of Arafat Jaradat, the prisoner who was tortured to death in Megiddo prison. Both youths have been critically injured and still remain in hospital.
Clashes broke out at around 1 pm on Sunday within Aida camp. Youth were said to have been throwing rocks at one of the watchtowers and towards the Apartheid Wall which encases the refugee camp, in addition to Rachel’s Tomb where clashes frequently take place.
According to Mohammad Al-Azza, a resident of Aida camp, around fifty youth were involved in clashes with the Israeli army on that day. The majority of them he said were below the age of sixteen.
Mohammad Khalid Al-Kirdi, a 12 year old boy from the nearby Dheisha refugee camp, was one of the youths who were shot during these clashes.
“The child was [standing] here by this door,” Mohammad Al-Azza said. “He was looking from here, there were many guys here looking. When they throw stones they go up closer, but it was all quiet and they were all here looking at what the soldiers will do. So he was just standing here and when he was shot he suddenly fell down.”
Mohammad was rushed to the Beit Jala hospital where they immediately began operating on him in an attempt to save his life. Two bullets were found in his body, one had entered through his chest and the other was shrapnel from a bullet found in his leg.
Despite claims that the boy was shot with live ammunition from a Ruger gun, Ronza Salem, a surgical resident from Beit Jala hospital, described the bullets as being made of rubber coated steel. However she said that it appeared to be a modified type of rubber bullet, which once it enters the body does not move directly in one line. The bullets were of similar shape to that of live ammunition.
In this case the bullet which entered in Mohammad’s chest was found near the vertebrae, below the neck. The bullet had inflicted damage upon his liver, diaphragm and lungs.
During initial surgery on Mohammad, surgeons were unable to remove the bullet from his body. The surgeons were however able to repair the vital organs affected.
Ronza Salem, a surgical resident from Beit Jala hospital, described the bullets as being a modified type of rubber bullet, which once it enters the body does not move directly in one line
“We found a laceration in the liver and the opening in the diaphragm,” Salem told the Palestine Monitor. “In the diaphragm, we saw a haematoma so just a tube was inserted. A lot of blood, 500ccs, was taken out so we knew the bullet was in the chest. We did a thoracotomy and then we found the lungs with an injury in the lower lobe and some soft tissue injuries and penetration.”
Within several hours following this incident, another boy had arrived at Beit Jala hospital after having been shot in the head near the Aida refugee camp.
Odai Sarhan, 16, was said to have been throwing rocks on the main road above Aida camp when the incident occurred. Others who accompanied Odai say that the soldiers were on the other side of the Wall. At one point they came through the gate and began shooting at them with live bullets. At this point Odai fell down and the others ran away.
The soldiers are said to have carried Odai inside and eventually called contacts from his phone to come retrieve his body.
“Someone told the ambulance someone was shot,” Ronza Salem described. “But when they went to find him they didn’t find anyone in the street. So after a while the soldiers called and said to come and take him. He was inside, they only put a bandage on his head and that was it.”
When Odai arrived at Beit Jala hospital the opening where the bullet entered his skull was said to have been around three centimetres in diameter with some fractures to the surrounding skull.
According to the same spokesperson from Beit Jala hospital, Odai was then sent to a more qualified hospital in Jerusalem due to the seriousness of his condition. On the way to Hadassah hospital the ambulance had to stop at the checkpoints and was held for an excessive amount of time. The journey took over one hour from Bethlehem while Odai was in a life threatening condition.
Eti Dvir, a spokesperson from Hadassah hospital, described Odai’s current situation as being stable, but still in a critical condition.
A report published on Ynet News has stated that during these particular clashes in Bethlehem soldiers had been authorised to use a Ruger gun. These guns are often fired with .22 calibre expanding bullets.
These bullets, also known as “dum dum bullets”, have the ability to shatter on entry. The shrapnel will then travel in different directions throughout the body with the potential to cause damage to many internal organs.
According to witnesses, in both incidents the shots fired were said to have been silent.
Israeli soldier with a Ruger gun in Hebron during the "open Shuhada street" protest, February 22, 2013. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.