A seven-year-old Palestinian boy sustained a serious head injury midday Sunday, after being hit in the head with a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers in the town of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Hours later, he was reported to be in a stable condition.
Clashes erupted in the town, with Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters toward students who were heading home from school, when Hasan Ahmad Issa was hit in the back of the head with a tear gas canister and knocked unconscious, the boy's father Ahmad Issa told Ma'an.
According to the father, Hasan was first evacuated to al-Yamamah hospital in al-Khader, then to al-Hussein Beit Jala governmental hospital, and finally to the Bethlehem Arab Society hospital in Beit Jala.
Director of the intensive care unit at Bethlehem Arab Society Hospital Nasr Jawabrah said that the boy was still unconscious when he arrived from al-Hussein, and that doctors were awaiting for the results of a CT scan.
Later in the afternoon, coordinator of al-Khader's popular committee Ahmad Salah wrote on his Facebook page that doctors confirmed that the boy suffered from mild internal bleeding and "would not need surgical intervention," and that the doctor recommended the boy be monitored for the coming 24 hours.
However, in an update Sunday night, a member of the boy's family told Ma'an that Ahmad had underwent head surgery to stop the bleeding.
The relative said that Ahmad was in a stable condition and sleeping after being given a sedative.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the incident in al-Khader.
Israeli forces have come under repeated criticism for excessive use of crowd control methods that often result in the injury or death of protesters, amid a backdrop of what critics have called a culture of impunity for Israeli soldiers.
"Israeli forces routinely misuse 'less-lethal' weapons and projectiles to directly target Palestinian children, killing and injuring them with impunity," Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) has said.
"Rampant disregard for international law combined with no accountability ensures the situation will continue to deteriorate for Palestinian children.”