Palestinian baby dies from tear gas inhalation

Ramallah/PNN

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

The baby boy, named 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 hospitalized 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,” reported Wafa.

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

The Israeli army did not responded to a request for comment at the time of this publication, adds Al-Jazeera.

Due to the seriousness of his injuries, Barghouti was transferred to Hadassah hospital in West Jerusalem.

Hospital officials were not available for comments.

‘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. That makes 2016 the deadliest year for Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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 program director at DCIP, told Al-Jazeera that Israeli forces “continually misuse crowd control weapons” like tear gas.

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

In May, a six-year-old Palestinian boy 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 due to inhaling excessive tear gas fired by Israeli forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.