Pales­tini­ans re­ject Is­raeli claim boy was hurt in bike ac­ci­dent


RAMALLAH: Is­rael on Tues­day claimed that a Pales­tinian teenager's se­vere head in­jury was caused by a bi­cy­cle ac­ci­dent and not an Is­raeli bul­let, spark­ing an­gry com­ments from ac­tivists and his fam­ily.

Is­raeli rights group B'Tse­lem pro­duced med­i­cal doc­u­ments ap­pear­ing to ver­ify that Mo­hammed Tamimi, 15, was shot.

A cousin of prom­i­nent jailed Pales­tinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, he was al­legedly shot in the head with a rub­ber bul­let dur­ing a protest in the oc­cu­pied West Bank in De­cem­ber, leav­ing part of his skull miss­ing.

It oc­curred the day Ahed Tamimi, 17, slapped and kicked two sol­diers next to her house in a video that later went vi­ral. She faces a long po­ten­tial jail sen­tence in a case that has gained in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion.

Mo­hammed's al­leged shoot­ing has been a key line of de­fense for Ahed's ac­tions by her lawyer in court hear­ings.

But on Tues­day, an Is­raeli De­fense Min­istry unit that over­sees af­fairs in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries said Mo­hammed had con­fessed the in­jury was the re­sult of fall­ing off a bike.

“In De­cem­ber 2017, the young man Mo­hammed Tamimi in­jured his skull when he was rid­ing his bi­cy­cle and fell off,” it said in an Ara­bic lan­guage state­ment posted on Face­book.

“To­day his fa­ther Abu Fadel Tamimi is claim­ing in the me­dia that his son was in­jured by a rub­ber bul­let in his skull,” it said, adding in bold red let­ters “fake news.”

The army de­tained Mo­hammed for sev­eral hours on Mon­day along with a num­ber of other res­i­dents from Ahed's vil­lage of Nabi Saleh.

His un­cle, Atal­lah, said when the teenager was ar­rested he did not want to tell the army that he was in­jured dur­ing a protest fear­ing he could be jailed.

But he did not ad­mit fall­ing off the bike, added the un­cle.

“They asked him to sign a pa­per and he re­fused.” B'Tse­lem pro­duced what it said were com­plete med­i­cal notes from the hos­pi­tal in Ramallah show­ing Mo­hammed was taken there with a “bul­let in­jury.”

Jonathan Pol­lak, an Is­raeli ac­tivist who said he was at the demon­stra­tion, told AFP he was around 20 me­ters away when Mo­hammed was shot.

He said the teenager was climb­ing a lad­der to­ward a house, which Is­raeli sol­diers were in.

Pol­lak said he heard the shot but did not see it, though af­ter­ward it was clear to him and oth­ers that it was a bul­let in­jury.

“This was one of the blood­i­est in­juries I have ever seen. He had a hole in his face to the left of his si­nus. I was wor­ried he would suf­fo­cate to death from all the blood... It was very ob­vi­ously a bul­let wound.”

The protest took place against the back­drop of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's con­tro­ver­sial recog­ni­tion of Jerusalem, which sparked ma­jor protests by Pales­tini­ans.

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