10-year-old Abdul Rahman Ishtaiwi in a coma in hospital after he was shot in the head with an explosive bullet fired by an Israeli army sniper.
By Jamil Dababat
KUFR QADDOUM, Monday, July 15, 2019 (WAFA) – Abdul Rahman Ishtaiwi’s day could have ended happily as it began.
On Friday, July 12, Abdul Rahman asked his older brother Muhammad to buy him ice cream before asking to use his phone to play the well-known game, PUBG. He also urged his mother, Aida, to prepare him a potato dish for lunch.
But when lunch came, Abdul Rahman was not at home, and the family believed that its 10-year-old son was playing with the neighborhood boys in the vicinity of its house.
At that time, around 2:00 p.m., Abdul Rahman was being transferred from Kufr Qaddoum, village by ambulance to a hospital in the city of Nablus after an explosive bullet penetrated his head while he was playing 300 meters away from his family home.
Kufr Qaddoum, a Palestinian village located between the cities of Nablus and Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank, is one of the villages whose residents come out every week to protest Israeli closure of its main access road for more than a decade.
According to identical testimonies from residents of the village, which has a population of about 4000 people, the shooting of the child took place away from where confrontations between the protesters and Israeli soldiers were taking place.
Riyad Ishtaiwi, a slim and sharp-eyed man, was the last of the village men who saw Abdul Rahman before the bullet hit him.
Two days after that incident, which grieved Kufr Qaddoum, Ishtaiwi, 45, explains how the bullet was fired at the child who was taken in a coma from the Palestinian hospital to an Israeli one due to the seriousness of his injury.
"I saw the child standing here and the soldiers standing there on top of a row of rocks," said Ishtaiwi, standing in the yard of the house where the boy was playing when he was shot.
From the place where the Israeli soldiers took a sniper position to the place where the child was standing, the distance was estimated at about 200 meters.
"I saw a soldier lying on the ground and getting ready to fire. At that moment the child fell to the ground. I looked at myself and my children checking our bodies," he said. "Blood was coming out from the head of Abdul Rahman and flowing on the ground."
A number of young villagers tell the same story.
Some of them pointed to the stains of blood that flowed from Abdul Rahman’s head and spread a distance of about 50 meters, which is the distance Ishtaiwi had carried the child from the place he was hit to the ambulance.
The stains were dark and dry, but they were still visible and they remind the village residents of the details of that bloody day.
The young villagers said the blood flowed from the head of the child profusely. "When I saw the blood I realized that the bullet had come out of his head," said Ishtaiwi.
However, residents said the doctors who had treated the child said the bullet exploded in his head and turned into about 100 fragments.
The village of Kufr Qaddoum is filled with rows of olive trees on its beautiful hills. In the center of the village, the residents coming to stand by the family of Abdul Rahman were overwhelmed in grief and shock.
"The village is sad, but the people here are grieving silently" said Ishtaiwi, who is trying to return to his normal life two days after carrying the injured child in his arms.
"The one who hit the child hit the entire village," said one of the young men.
When a settlement was built on a large area of confiscated village land and the road was closed because of it, Ishtaiwi was only 10 years old. After three decades of residents trying to regain their land, he feels that "the road to achieve this is still long and what is happening makes peace a lot further away from people‘s mind."
Weekly confrontations take place in the eastern part of the village, which is cultivated with olive trees and where the closed road passes.
Village residents estimated the distance between the area where clashes take place every Friday afternoon and the place where Abdul Rahman was wounded at about 300 meters, pointing to an area blocked by houses and olive trees.
They told the same story: a sniper fired at the child with the aim of killing him and deterring the residents from continuing with their weekly protests.
Abdul Rahman is the youngest of his brothers.
In the house overwhelmed with sadness and silence, some members of Abdul Rahman’s family sit around trying to remember moments from the child‘s life before he was shot.
"He wouldn’t go far from the house," said his eldest brother.
Others show pictures and videos of him buying from a store.
Mashhour Qaddoumi, head of Fatah movement in the village, said the child‘s shooting shocked everyone. "All these houses have been affected; everyone is in pain," he said.
When asked about the number of village residents injured in the past nine years in the weekly confrontations, he replied, “The question should be: who wasn’t injured?”
It was not possible to talk to Abdul Rahman‘s mother, but his brother brought the ice cream he had bought that morning for Abdul Rahman and kept it in the refrigerator. As he brought the ice cream, tears began to come out from the older brother.
Mothers in Kufr Qaddoum usually come out to free their children from of the hands of the Israeli soldiers who try to arrest the children. A video showed a group of women trying to free a child from soldiers trying to take him to a military vehicle.
"This village will not stop until it gets rid of the occupiers," said Qaddoumi. Some of the walls in the center of the village, where the weekly protests take place, are covered with slogans such as "We love our land and we will fight for it."
People in the village keep asking about Abdul Rahman‘s health condition.
"The condition of the injured is complicated since the bullet had settled behind the brain," said Othman Bisharat, a neurologist at Rafidya government hospital in Nablus where Abdul Rahman was first brought after he was injured.
He said he personally counted between 60 to 70 fragments in the brain resulting from the bullet.
The doctors worked had to stop the bleeding in the brain in order to stop the deterioration on the child‘s life.
"We were concerned with treating the middle artery in the brain that was severely damaged," Bisharat told WAFA.
Residents of the village who saw Abdul Rahman at the moment of his injury said the bullet caused a hole in the child‘s head.
Ishtaiwi confirms that.
"I noticed that part of the head was on the ground, which caused the blood to flow profusely," he said.
Abdul Rahman‘s difficult injury prompted quick moves by Palestinian officials.
Walid Assaf, head of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, told WAFA that the executive branch “announced readiness to send Abdul Rahman to anywhere" for medical treatment.
"We will prepare a report about the child‘s incident and we may bring it before the International Criminal Court," he said.
In Kufr Qaddoum, people look at the shooting of Abdul Rahman as "an Israeli attempt to deter the younger generation from continuing on the path of their parents and grandparents."
"They want to intimidate everyone,” said Qaddoumi and others. “But they are wrong because after every injury, the number of demonstrators increases.