Pictures: The occupation targets eyes with “black bullets”…7 Jerusalemites lost their eyes last year including three children
Tags: They used to see with both eyes…see their way, work, studies and friends. In a moment, they lost sight in one of their eyes due to a rubber bullet. Afterwards, they lost comfort and their lives changes. They also lost hope and security and their lives turned into difficult medical and psychological conditions. Rubber bullets fired by occupation forces towards children and young men caused them to lose their eyes in addition to fractures and wounds in their faces. Wounds will eventually heal but the psychological wound might take many years to heal, if ever. Seven Jerusalemites lost one of their eyes last years in which four of them were from Shu’fat refugee camp, two from the village of Esawyeh and one in the neighborhood of Al-Thori in Silwan; among the injured were three children in which one of them is mute and deaf. Wadi Hilweh Information Center documented the injuries of the seven Jerusalemites and the extent of health and psychological impact rubber bullets had left in their lives. Yehya Sami Amoudi (10 years) On21/5/2015, Yehya was with a group of children heading towards his sister’s school in Shu’fat refugee camp at times when there were no clashes in the area but the occupation forces targeted him with a rubber bullet. Despite his critical medical conditions and his immediate need for treatment by the doctor on duty in the medical center in Shu’fat refugee camp, the forces gave him a hard time while passing through the checkpoint and requested to see his birth certificate. Yehya’s mother said: “Yehya was critically injured in his face and was severely bleeding; his face was also swollen. Platinum was placed due to skull fractures he suffered and his mouth was closed from the time he suffered the injury until the end of last July; he was only taking special fluids and vitamins. She added: “At the beginning, a temporary glass eye was placed which required continuous cleaning and then they placed a permanent glass eye. Next March, he will undergo a surgery underneath his eye and he also needs plastic surgery and follow-up with doctors.” Few months after the injury, psychological effects are obvious on Yehya. He get mad quickly resulting in swelling underneath his eye leading to an infection and severe headache sometimes. His mother also explained that he is very scared from the clashes occurring in the refugee camp and Jerusalem these days. She continued: “He is sometimes embarrassed from losing his eye as his injury and current medical condition negatively affects his relationship with his brothers and sometimes acts violent towards them. Also, the current weather change causes burning and pain in his eye and he needs glasses for his good eye; he continuously attends sessions at the Counseling Center.” Yehya is now in 5th grade and needs help when writing which is why a teacher has been lately helping and accompanying him. Zakaria Yehya Joulani (14 years) Zakaria is no different that Yehya as he was injured on 31/3/2015 while heading home from school in Shu’fat refugee camp. He said: “I was heading home and while walking in the refugee camp two young men were injured with rubber bullets and all of a sudden I was targeted. I fell near the pharmacy and was in so much pain while I was bleeding from my face.” Zakaria’s father said: “The injury psychologically affected my son. He wakes up at night screaming and is quite most of the time. He is very angry and doesn’t like to go to school anymore and his educational achievement has significantly decreased.” Khalil Mohammad Ismaeel Kiswani (15 years) The injury of Khalil was straight in the head. The bullet hit his brain and caused skull fractures and an infection in the brain; it also damaged his left eye. His father said: “After demolishing the house of Martyr Ibrahim Akari on 2/12/2015 and while the forces were withdrawing from the refugee camp, my son was targeted with a rubber bullet from close distance when there were no clashes in the area and the forces were still deployed.” He pointed out that he was accompanying his son and were heading home from school. He continued: “Since the injury last December, my son has not gone to school (10th grade). After staying in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, he was transferred to Aline rehabilitation hospital and we currently follow up with the rehabilitation hospital on a daily basis. The bullet affected his movement and he continuously has follow-ups and check-ups in Hadassah hospital especially after removing the brain bone due to fractures caused by the bullet. He explained that he was forced to quit his job to be able to accompany his son for the treatment process and pointed out that their life has completely changed since the injury. He said that his son was negatively affected and continuously suffers from fatigue but they continue to support him saying “You can see the whole world in one eye just like we see it with both”. Mohammad Burqan (18 years) Prisoner Mohammad Burqan is from the neighborhood of Al-Thori in Silwan. He was injured with a rubber bullet last October which led to the removal of his left eye. He also suffered fractures in the facial bones, nose, teeth and upper jaw. He underwent a surgery to implant platinum which revealed that a vain was damaged in the left side of his face which he can’t feel. Despite the injury, the forces arrested Burqan immediately after the injury and he received treatment while under arrest. He underwent a surgery to enucleate his eye and to repair the bones of his nose, cheek (underneath the eye) and eyebrow. While still in need of treatment and few days after the surgery, he was transferred to Al-Maskobyeh center for interrogation and then to Megiddo prison. His mother said that he did not finish treatment and still needs follow-up. He also needs to put a temporary lens as recommended by his doctor. She added that she was able to visit him once since being arrested on 16/12/2015 as he was initially detained at Al-Maskobyeh. Visiting times were concurrent with court dates and the prisoners in his section are currently punishment and are banned from visits. Ala’ Salah (18 years) Ala’ Salah is from the village of Esawyeh and was injured on 17/10/2015 in the village with a rubber bullet in his eye that led to the removal of his left eye and facial fractures (around the eye and nose). He turned himself-in on the 4th of January 2016 after raiding his home several times and requesting his for interrogation and continuously threatening his family. His mother said: “Ala’ and I were on our way to the hospital to visit my daughter who was in labor. While walking towards the bus station in the village of Esawyeh, there were ongoing clashes between young men and occupation forces that heavily fired tear-gas canister and rubber bullets in the area. I hid in one of the neighborhoods after suffering a state of suffocation and was separated for minutes from my son Ala’. I then heard the young men saying that somebody lost his eye.” She added: “Ala’ was injured with a rubber bullet in his eye and suffered severe bleeding and fractures. He underwent a surgery and his left eye was removed. He also underwent another surgery to implant platinum underneath his eye in addition to another surgery in the nose; he still needs another surgery for his eyelid which was removed.” She said: “I always think about his condition…I don’t sleep and continuously worry about him while detained in Eshel prison- Beer Sheva. Ala’ told the judge in one of the court sessions that he was it on his eye and threatened during interrogation. She continued: “Signs of fatigue are clear on my son. This is a prison, no wonder how he would feel while not receiving the necessary treatment!” Ala’s mother pointed out that this is the third-arrest for her son. The first time he was arrested from the area of Damascus Gate under the pretext of throwing stones and was 16-years old then; he was released on condition of house-arrest and was banned from going to school for a long time. Few days after the house-arrest was over, he was arrested and detained for two months and the last time he was arrested in January. Louai Faisal Obeid (37 years) Louai Obeid is livening a double tragedy. He is a father to five children where the oldest is 15 and the youngest is 4. He was injured in his left eye and lost it and then lost his job as a tourist bus-driver; today he is unable to work. Louai was injured with fractures in the skull and nose and damaged the nerves of the senses of smell and taste. He said: “Months after the injury, the file is still transferred from one party to another, from the police to borders control and so on.” Louai was targeted with a rubber bullet on 21/10/2015 after stepping on his balcony on the third floor of a residential building in the neighborhood of Obeid in the village of Esawyeh. The soldiers were standing in the street and there were no clashes in the area. Nafez Allam Dmeiri (55 years) The 55-year old Nafez Dmeiri is staying home after suffering an injury last July. He was forced to quit his job (working in a shoe factory in Tel Aviv) and what makes it even worse is that he is deaf and mute. Dmeiri always had a smile on his face but today he is lonely and stays home most of the time and suffers from severe pains in his head as he explained through sign language. His only child Allam (15) said: “I was with my father on our way home in Shu’fat refugee camp. There was traffic on the checkpoint and when we arrived near the grocery store, the occupation’s Special Forces were firing sound grenades, tear-gas and rubber bullets. We were separated and I headed home and was waiting for my father who hid inside the grocery store after a rubber bullet and three tear-gas canisters were fired towards him which is documented through surveillance cameras.” He added: “We called my father through video call several times. When he answered, he was bleeding and we knew he was injured.” He continued: “My dad has water in his good eye that causes him pains and heavy pressure on the brain; he needs a surgery.” Dr. Amin Abu Ghazaleh Dr. Amin Abu Ghazaleh from the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jerusalem explained that the Israeli authorities used black rubber bullets more than blue ones despite being much more dangerous since being heavy. If fired towards a person from close distance, it causes bleeding and fractures and various bruises; several cases of eye injuries were recorded due to black rubber bullets. Blue rubber bullets are more flexible and only causes redness in the spot where it hits a person and light bruises. Lawyer Nisreen Alayan Lawyer Nisreen Alayan from the Human Rights organization explained that the organization is requesting immediate stoppage of using black rubber bullets because of the damage they cause. She pointed out that Israeli forces started using this type of bullets in July 2014 and is considered way more dangerous than blue rubber bullets. She added that the child Mohammad Sinokrot from the neighborhood of Wad Al-Joz in Jerusalem passed away after being shot with this type of rubber bullets. Also, many Jerusalemites were critically injured and 13 Jerusalemites including 6 children lost one of their eyes as documented by the organization. Alayan confirmed that the use of black rubber bullets contradicts with the legal standards which prohibits using them against children, women and the elderly. They are also prohibited from being shot towards the upper body part which is opposite to what’s happening. She added that the Israeli authorities claim that black rubber bullets are not deadly and are used accurately but the facts prove otherwise especially after the Martyrdom of Sinokrot.