"Dum-dums" expand on impact, butchering their victims' bodies.
Mahmoud al-Teiti's body being carried through the al-Fawwar refugee camp.
On Tuesday evening, Israeli soldiers allegedly shot a young Palestinian protester dead with bullets banned by international law. The expanding "dum-dum" bullets in question are prohibited by the 1899 Hague Declaration because they are fucking horrible: expanding on impact to increase the size of the wound, leaking those wounds of their blood more rapidly and devastating their internal organs. Use of them is listed as a war crime in the Statute of the International Criminal Court, but I suppose we should know by now that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are above little things like worrying about war crimes.
And just in case you were thinking of getting all outraged and militant, calm down – 25-year-old Mahmoud Adel Faris al-Teiti, the deceased, had been throwing stones at Israeli forces. So the use of internationally illegal deadly force against him and the other protesters was totally justified. A spokesperson for the IDF confirmed that live ammunition had been used during the clashes at the al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, but was unable to comment on the type of bullets fired.
A Hamas supporter holding a poster of Mahmoud al-Teiti.
Usama al-Jabarin, chief surgeon at Hebron's al-Ahli hospital, was slightly more helpful when I went down to visit him. Dressed in his surgical scrubs, al-Jabarin was stood over the bed of Mahmoud al-Shufada – another man who had been shot during the clashes on Tuesday night – and confirmed that expanding bullets had been used.
"These bullets cause great damage to internal organs and muscles," he told me. "I haven't seen them used since the Second Intifada." Al-Jabarin continued to explain that, because of the horrific damage the expanding bullets are intended to cause – designed to produce a much larger exit wound than normal bullets – Mahmoud had lost almost two-thirds of his blood and had to undergo a "massive" blood transfusion. Besides al-Shufada, seven other Palestinians injured during Tuesday night’s clashes are being treated for their injuries at a hospital in Yatta.
I contacted several humanitarian organisations operating in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories for quotes, but nearly all of them declined to comment until there was concrete proof that expanding bullets had been used. Some even questioned the ability of Palestinian doctors to determine which type of bullets had been used, but it seemed pretty clear from al-Jabarin's detailed account that the bullets used were less of the standard, straight through the head ilk, and more like the "obliterate whatever possible in the worst way possible" kind that are banned in international warfare.
A spokesperson for Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former Israeli soldiers committed to revealing the reality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, said he didn’t believe regular IDF units would have had access to dum-dum bullets. You can read into that how you will, but it seems to either mean that elite IDF units are being provided the bullets by evil bastards in a higher rank, or they're sourcing themselves to intentionally inflict more damage on Palestinians. Either way, getting hold of illegal bullets so you can use them on persecuted people whose land you're occupying is clearly a very shitty thing to do.
Members of Islamic Jihad at al-Teiti's funeral.
Two pieces of shrapnel remain lodged in al-Shudafa's pelvis and it's feared that if he survives, he'll have sustained injuries to his spinal cord as the bullet entered his lower back. "The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical for him," al-Jabarin told me, before rushing back to surgery to attend to another patient.
Al-Shudafa's parents are maintaining a vigil outside his hospital room and his father denies that his son had participated in Tuesday night's rock-throwing, instead claiming he was attempting to help an elderly uncle escape the clashes and the sustained shower of tear gas canisters being fired by the IDF.
On Wednesday morning, thousands of mourners marched through the al-Fawwar camp for al-Teiti's funeral, all under the watchful gaze of a dozen Israeli soldiers who positioned themselves underneath a nearby observation tower. Evidence of the previous night greeted the crowds in the form of improvised road blocks and the smouldering remnants of burned rubbish and tyres.
Members of Palestine's major political factions were present, along with the governor of Hebron and masked members of militant groups Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who embraced during the lunchtime prayer before promising “retaliation” for al-Teiti’s “execution”.
Prayers in the al-Fawwar mosque during al-Teiti's funeral.
Al-Teiti had been studying media at the Palestine Technical College in Arroub and was active in highlighting the cause of Palestinian prisoners. I spoke to his classmate Amir Thayabeh at the funeral, who told me that al-Teiti had been arrested by both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority for his activism. "He'd only been released by the Palestinian terrorist police four or five days ago," Thayabeh told me. "I saw him just before he died and told him to go home, but he said, 'No, I will stay here and I'm ready to fight.' He was just throwing stones, none of the Palestinians there had guns."
The funeral was followed by more clashes at the camp’s entrance, with Palestinians throwing rocks and bottles at the Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, reportedly injuring four Palestinians. Mahmoud al-Teiti's was the sixth Palestinian killed so far this year by Israeli soldiers, and this recent apathetic flouting of international laws suggests that that tally will only keep rising.
More from Israel and Palestine: