Straight in the eye

Asil Muhasin by Tali Mayer

Dear friends,


The recent cover story in Haaretz gave great exposure to our ongoing work with respect to the use of black sponge-tipped bullets by police. The police started using these bullets exactly two years ago, and since that time ACRI has been collecting evidence of adults and children who have been injured in the eye and lost their sight as a result of these bullets. I feel devastated thinking about the pain, severe injuries, suffering and permanent disabilities caused.


When documenting the stories of those injured, we found that none of the adults or children that we met were suspected by police to have participated in riots, and no legal proceedings were taken against them. These stories raise a lot of questions. For example, why was Nafiz Damiri, aged 55, who has not been able to see or speak since birth, shot and blinded in one eye when he took cover in a supermarket? Security cameras recorded the incident. How was Luai Abed, a father of five, shot in the head and blinded in one eye while standing on the balcony of his second-story house in Issiwiya? How was Muhammad Abid, 5 years old, shot on his way home from school, causing him to lose sight in his right eye?


To be clear, this is not a ball made of soft foam, but a big bullet made of hard rubber. It was introduced in order to allow the police to “cause dull harm and temporary neutralization” when dealing with riots, without causing death or irreversible damage. This seems like a legitimate and appropriate purpose. However in practice, these weapons causes severe harm. Although police guidelines explicitly prohibit shooting at the torso and shooting at children, during the last two years that the bullets have been used in East Jerusalem, at least 40 people and half of them children, have been seriously injured and disabled for life by black sponge bullets. A 16-year-old boy was killed when he was shot in the head by a bullet. ACRI Attorney Anne Suciu has repeatedly petitioned the police and the Attorney General to demand that the use of black sponge bullets be stopped. Many serious injuries in the past two years have demonstrated that this is a disproportionate measure and calls into question the police’s reference to the bullet as a non-lethal weapon.


Tali Mayer, a photojournalist, had her jaw broken by a black sponge bullet while she was working in East Jerusalem. Six months ago ACRI started working on a special project that Tali initiated. Together with our field worker Khader Daibes, Tali interviewed and photographed people who have been injured. The result of this joint project was revealed this week in Haaretz.


We invite you to check it out. A photo really is worth a thousand words.





Sharon Abraham-Weiss
Executive Director
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Police and Security Guards

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