Palestinian baby dies from tear gas inhalation: PA

Officials say the child died from asphyxiation two months after Israeli forces shot tear gas at his home near Ramallah.

Israeli forces shot tear gas
At least nine Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers so far this year, according to rights groups [File: Mohamd Torokman/Reuters]

An 18-month-old Palestinian baby has died after inhaling tear gas during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians nearly three months ago, according to Palestinian health officials.

The baby, Abdul Rahman Barghouti, died late on Friday from asphyxiation, following more than two months of treatment, Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman Osama Najjar told Al Jazeera.

Najjar said that Barghouti was hospitalised after Israeli forces “shot tear gas into his home and room” in the occupied West Bank town of Aboud near Ramallah on May 19.

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians took place during a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners who were on hunger strike at the time.

“Soldiers … randomly fired a large volume of tear gas at civilian homes,” Wafa said.

READ MORE: 2016 ‘deadliest year’ for West Bank children in decade

Najjar told Al Jazeera that Israeli jeeps blocked Palestinian ambulances from reaching Barghouti and medics had to go by foot to attend to the child and bring him to a hospital in Ramallah.

Because of the seriousness of his injuries, Barghouti was transferred to Hadassah hospital in West Jerusalem. Hospital officials were not available for comment.

An Israeli army spokesman told Al Jazeera on Monday that a child “was brought from Aboud to Israel to receive medical treatment” at Haddassah Hospital on May 19. 

“He was said to have been exposed to gas that risked his health. The child was treated and released from the hosptial after a week and a half,” the spokesman said. 

The spokesman added that on Friday, “the child was brought by his family to the settlement of Halmish with no pulse. A paramedic in the settlement determined his death once he arrived.”

The spokesman also said that there was “no known relationship between the two cases”.  

‘Misuse’ of crowd control weapons

According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, at least 101 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in 2016, including 31 children.

Rights group Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has documented at least nine Palestinian children who have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers so far this year.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability programme director at DCIP, told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces “continually misuse crowd-control weapons” such as tear gas.

He said the misuse of such weapons “is in violation of military regulations and international law”.

READ MORE: Fatima Hjeiji – Seventh child killed by Israel in 2017

In May, a six-year-old Palestinian child was seriously injured after a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces hit him in the back of the head.

At the time, the DCIP said in a statement that “excessive use of ‘less-lethal’ weapons and projectiles in crowded areas where children are present poses serious risks to children, especially very young children”.

The organisation documented at least seven cases between January and May 20, 2017 in which Palestinian children were injured by crowd-control weapons used by Israeli forces.

In 2015, an eight-month-old baby died from tear gas inhalation in a village near Bethlehem.

The baby suffocated after Israeli forces sprayed tear gas at Palestinians during clashes in Beit Fajjar.

In a separate incident in 2015, a 54-year-old Palestinian man died owing to inhaling excessive tear gas fired by Israeli forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

This article has been updated to reflect the Israeli army’s response. 

Source: Al Jazeera