Title

Israeli soldiers used child as human shield

Database

Electronic Media Monitoring Service 

Date

04-10-2010 08:13 AM

Source

ABC Canberra 666

Parl No.

 

Channel Name

ABC Canberra 666

Start

04-10-2010 08:13 AM

Abstract

 
End

04-10-2010 08:53 AM

Cover date

2010-10-04 08:13:20

Citation Id

328979

Enrichment

 
Reporter

EASTLEY, Tony

Speaker

BARKER, Anne

URL

Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online

No

Media Deleted

False

System Id

emms/emms/328979

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Israeli soldiers used child as human shield -

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TONY EASTLEY: Two Israeli soldiers have been convicted of using a Palestinian child as a human
shield by forcing him to check for explosives during the Gaza war early last year. The
nine-year-old boy was ordered to search bags the Israeli soldiers suspected may have been booby
trapped by Palestinian militants.

Middle East correspondent Anne Barker reports.

ANNE BARKER: At the height of the war in January last year two Israeli soldiers helped take control
of an apartment block in the Gaza City suburb of Tel al-Hawa. As they did so - according to the
court testimony - they came under gun and rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

As they rounded up the residents inside, the soldiers stumbled on bags in a bathroom and ordered a
nine-year-old Palestinian boy to check them to see if they'd been rigged with explosives. The boy
opened a bag belonging to his own family - but when he failed to open another one the soldiers
pulled him away and shot at the bag - endangering everyone in the room, according to the court
verdict.

The military prosecutor Major Dorit Tuval says the soldiers' actions were in breach of the Israeli
military rules of conduct.

(Dorit Tuval speaking)

"It was a conscious decision and one that contradicted the basic principles which those soldiers
were taught from their first day in the army, and that's why they're convicted now."

The two sergeants were court-martialled for their actions, and have now been found guilty of
reckless endangerment and unbecoming conduct. Although the court did acknowledge they'd been under
difficult and dangerous combat conditions at the time, and had gone several nights without sleep.

The boy involved gave evidence to his own lawyers that he thought one of the soldiers would kill
him, and had wet his pants in fear.

"I opened the bag as he pointed his weapon directly at me," the child said. "I emptied the bag on
the floor. It contained money and papers. I looked at him and he was laughing."

It's the first conviction of its kind for a practice that is now strictly banned by Israel - and
known as "neighbouring" - where Palestinian civilians are used for example, to doorknock the homes
of suspected militants to protect Israeli forces from coming under attack.

The court verdict makes no mention of any munitions being found in the bags but the soldiers'
lawyer Ilan Katz says they've both been used as scapegoats.

(Ilan Katz speaking)

"These two soldiers are the ones that pay the price for the mistakes of senior people," he said.
"The system thinks that if they are convicted the world will get off Israel's case. Whoever thinks
this is severely mistaken."

The two soldiers are expected to be sentenced in a few weeks.

This is Anne Barker in Jerusalem, reporting for AM.