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Israel closes case on 9-year-old Palestinian boy shot in eye during police activity

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Israel’s internal affairs department said it would not prosecute police officers involved in an alleged shooting that cost a nine-year-old Palestinian his eye, a decision seen by AFP Sunday said.

The family of Malek Issa, who now has a glass eye, said the boy was hit by a non-lethal round used for crowd control in February while he was buying a sandwich.

The incident took place in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, part of the predominantly Palestinian eastern part of the city, which Israel captured in 1967.

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Police at the time said they were responding to a riot in the area.

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The justice ministry said that following an exhaustive investigation, its internal affairs department “concluded there was not sufficient evidence to press criminal charges.”

It said the police force suspected of firing the round had “encountered resistance that included throwing stones at the force,” while en route to make an arrest.

“During the activity, a sponge bullet was fired toward a wall, which was not close to where the boy was standing,” it said in the decision.

The ministry said a medical investigation could not rule out the possibility Issa lost his eye “from a stone, and not the sponge bullet.”

While the force was cleared of criminal responsibility, the internal affairs department called for a police inquiry into the incident, “including regarding the use of a sponge rifle during operational activity near civilians,” the statement said.

“This is a serious and saddening incident that took place during operational activity,” it added.