Palestinian child loses an eye after being shot with sponge-tipped bullet

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A five-year-old Palestinian boy has lost an eye after being shot during West Bank clashes between Palestinian gunmen and the Israel Defense Forces, a report said Monday.

Khaled Malalha from the village of Bazariya, northwest of Nablus, was traveling with family members to a wedding last Friday when the gun battle erupted at a nearby junction, according to the Haaretz daily.

The boy was taken to Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, where he underwent a series of operations, though doctors eventually made the decision to remove his eye.

The father’s child, Akram Malalha, told Haaretz that he did not know why the IDF soldier had allegedly pointed a gun at his car since he was trying to keep away from the clashes. He added that no Israeli official had contacted the family following the incident and that he did not believe that there would be an investigation.

An IDF spokesperson quoted by the newspaper said that the shooting occurred during clashes between the IDF and Palestinians who reportedly threw stones and burned tires. The soldiers responded with crowd dispersal means, including gas and sponge-tipped bullets, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the family had not reported the child’s injury to the IDF, and that the circumstances of the incident were being looked into and a formal investigation would be launched if the family decides to file a complaint.

The sponge-tipped bullets used by Israeli security forces are generally considered a type of “less lethal” ammunition, as they are less likely to kill a person than standard bullets, but they have still been responsible for a number of serious injuries and deaths.

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