Palestinian child rehospitalized a week after being injured by tear gas canister

Hasan Ahmed Issa

Bethlehem (Ma’an) — A week after a six-year-old Palestinian was seriously injured by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, the boy was rehospitalized after his initial treatment damaged his windpipe, his father told Ma’an on Sunday.

Clashes were taking place on May 21 in the town of al-Khader, with Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters toward children 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.
 An Israeli army spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the incident at the time.
After being hit by the tear gas canister, 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 where he was treated for a fractured skull and underwent surgery for internal bleeding in his head.
The injury required 13 stitches, according to the father, Ahmad Issa.
A CT scan immediately after the surgery showed that Hasan’s condition was stable, and another CT scan on Friday confirmed that he recovered from the head injury and suffered no damage to his brain.
He remained in the hospital until Tuesday.
However, Ahmad said that shortly after Hasan’s return home, the family noticed that the boy was having difficulty breathing, so they took him back to Bethlehem Arab Society hospital on Thursday.
Hasan was then referred to Caritas Baby Hospital in northern Bethlehem, where he was again referred to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.
Speaking via telephone from Shaare Zedek, Ahmad told Ma’an that doctors there said that the breathing tube that was inserted in Hasan’s windpipe at al-Yamamah hospital in al-Khader — his first point of treatment — injured the child’s trachea, causing the breathing problems.
Doctors at Shaare Zedek told Ahmad that Hasan would need to stay in the ICU until Thursday, June 1, to undergo surgery to fix the damage caused to his trachea.
Hasan Ahmed Issa1
Photo of Hasan at Shaare Zedek Hospital, shared by his father on Facebook
Hospitals in the occupied West Bank are sometimes not equipped to deal with more advanced medical problems and procedures, and as a result, Palestinian doctors will refer their patients to more sophisticated treatment centers in Israel — with Palestinians being forced to contend with Israel’s permit regime and restrictions on movement.
A 2015 report by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) that compared health conditions in the occupied territory to those in Israel found huge disparities between indicators such as average life expectancy, infant mortality, and maternal mortality, while major gaps were also found in the financing of, the services provided by, and the manpower available to the Palestinian healthcare system.
Palestinians have also protested in recent months over allegations of rampant medical negligence and lack of accountability in the West Bank’s medical community.
While PHRI’s report noted the faults of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the group faulted Israeli mechanisms of control that prevent the ministry from providing full health services to Palestinians in the first place.
“It is the duty of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to provide health services to the population to the best of its ability, but it is Israel’s obligation to provide all the services that exceed the ability of the Ministry of Health, so that a Palestinian child and an Israeli child, who may live only a few hundred yards apart, receive equitable medical care,” PHRI official Mor Efrat said.
Meanwhile, In the wake of the clashes last week, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) reiterated their condemnation of the Israeli army for its excessive use of force.
“Israeli forces have once again used crowd control weapons in violation of their own military regulations, and in violation of international law,” Accountability Program director at DCIP Ayed Abu Eqtaish said in a report released by the group in the wake of the incident.
“The excessive use of ‘less-lethal’ weapons and projectiles in crowded areas where children are present poses serious risks to children, especially very young children,” Abu Eqtaish added.
DCIP stressed that crowd control weapons are only “less lethal” when fired at the lower body, from a distance of 50-60 meters (164-197 feet) and not aimed at children, all of which is stipulated by Israel’s own military regulations.
According to DCIP, seven Palestinian children were injured by Israeli forces’ crowd control weapons between January and May 20, 2017, five of whom sustaining injuries to the upper bodies.
“Israeli forces regularly employ rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters, water cannons, sound grenades, and other ‘non-fatal riot dispersal methods’ to quash protests. Excessive and improper use of crowd control weapons can lead to permanent disability or even death, particularly in children,” the report said.
The group highlighted that in February, an Israeli soldier shot a rubber-coated steel bullet at 10-year-old Mohammad Hilmi Jameel Shtaiwi’s chest, near his neck, when Israeli forces suppressed a weekly march in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya.
DCIP has documented the deaths of four Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank between October 2015 and December 2016 as a direct result of Israel’s misuse of crowd control weapons, not including child fatalities that resulted from live ammunition.

(Source / 28.05.2017)

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