Amira Hass
March 6, 2013 - 1:00am

An East Jerusalem woman sustained a serious injury to her jaw last week from a foam-tipped plastic bullet fired by a Border Police officer in an incident whose particulars are in dispute.

According to a police spokesman the incident, in the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, began when one young woman was arrested by the Border Police. He said residents began throwing rocks at the arresting officers from nearby rooftops, in response to which “the forces fired three foam-tipped bullets.”

But residents insist that no rocks were thrown at the officers.

The incident occurred on February 27. While Palestinian media reported extensively on the injuries sustained by Ruba Odeh, the police spokesman said police were unaware that anyone had been hurt.

On Wednesday of last week residents of Silwan’s Al-Bustan neighborhood were woken up at 3 A.M. by loud voices outside. Those who went outside saw around 40 armed police officers, dressed in black and wearing black ski masks over their faces.

This impressive force had been dispatched to arrest Amani Odeh, a 26-year-old dentist with a 3-year-old son. Police say she was suspected of putting up posters that incite violence.

At the sound of the commotion two of Amani's sisters-in-law went onto the balcony of their third-floor apartment to investigate. Both of the woman, one of whom was Ruba Odeh, 23, were still there when Amani was taken away.

Ruba says she suddenly saw the red light of a gun's laser sight pointed at her. She and her sister-in-law tried to run back inside, but Ruba managed only to turn around before she was struck by a bullet.

Sheikh Musa Odeh, Ruba’s father-in-law and Amani’s father, was in the alley below watching the police drive off with his daughter in custody. He says he saw a police officer fire three bullets into the air for no reason, and that he even told the officer there was no reason to shoot since the arrest was already carried out.

Then, Odeh says, he heard another daughter shouting that Ruba had been shot in the face and was bleeding.

He drove her to East Jerusalem’s Makassed Hospital, where doctors determined that Ruba's lower jaw was broken and some of her teeth were loose. Musa Odeh then brought her to Hadassah University Hospital, where she was admitted for further treatment.

Ruba was discharged on Friday, but she still has trouble talking and was barred from eating solid food for 45 days.

Regarding the police claim that residents threw rocks at then, Musa Odeh said since he and several other neighbors were in the street with the police officers, any rocks thrown from the rooftops would have been just as likely to hit the residents as the officers.

“It’s not true that there was rock-throwing,” he said.

Amani Odeh was questioned and released to 10 days of house arrest the same day she was detained. On Wednesday the police returned the cell phones and computer they confiscated. She says she is sure that her arrest stemmed from a case of mistaken identity.


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