An international children's rights group has accused Israeli forces of "improper use of crowd control weapons" against Palestinian children since a wave of unrest erupted last October.
In a report published Saturday, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) said it had documented at least eight cases where children had received serious injuries in their upper bodies due to Israeli forces' "misuse" of the weapons.
The group cited the case of 16-year-old Mamdouh Mahyoub Sorour, who was shot with with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the back of his head during a protest in the West Bank village of Nilin on Feb. 12, resulting in a brain hemorrhage.
"After a two-hour surgery and nearly a week in intensive care, Mamduh is in a stable condition," the report said. "His father told Defense for Children International-Palestine that since returning home, Mamduh is fatigued, stressed, and prefers to be alone."
Another two of the eight children had lost sight in one of their eyes as a result of their injuries, DCIP said.
"The improper use of crowd control weapons against children must end immediately," said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCIP's accountability program director.
"Israeli soldiers who aim crowd control weapons at children's heads and upper bodies at close range must be held accountable for their actions."
According to the report, Israeli military regulations say that Israeli forces may only fire rubber-coated steel bullets at the legs, and never at women or children. Israeli soldiers are also required to be 50 to 60 meters from their targets.
DCIP documented one case where Israeli forces allegedly shot a 13-year-old Palestinian with a rubber-coated steel bullet at a distance "of approximately two meters," during a raid on the village of Hizma, north of Jerusalem.
The report said: "Across the West Bank, Israeli forces employ rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters, water cannons, sound grenades, and other 'non-fatal riot dispersal methods' to quash protests.
"While Israeli military regulations restrict the parameters and manner of their use, the excessive and improper use of crowd control weapons can lead to permanent disability or even death, particularly in children."
Since October last year, at least 43 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers, the report said, including four during clashes with Israeli troops -- three from the use of live rounds and one from a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Most of the other children were killed after allegedly attempting to carry out attacks on Israelis, although DCIP accused the Israeli army of appearing to implement "a 'shoot-to-kill' policy, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial killings."
The rights group noted: "International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable."
In the violence that has carried on unabated into 2016, nearly 140 Palestinian adults have also been shot dead since October, while Palestinian attacks have left nearly 30 Israelis dead in the same period.
DCIP cited UN figures, which say that between October and January, Israeli forces injured at least 2,177 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
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