Complaint lodged in case of 16-year-old girl used as a human shield

September 22, 2010

[Ramallah, 22 September 2010] – On Monday, 20 September 2010, DCI-Palestine and Adalah lodged a complaint with the Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) arising out of the use by Israeli soldiers of a child as a human shield.

DCI-Palestine and Adalah have received credible evidence that at 3:30am, on 18 February 2010, a 16-year-old girl (D.A.) was used as a human shield by units of the Israeli army whilst conducting operations in the old city of Nablus, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

It is alleged that in the early hours of 18 February, Israeli soldiers broke down the door to the family home and stormed the house. According to sworn affidavits collected by DCI-Palestine the soldiers came to arrest the girl’s older brother, M.A. (17) and accused him of possessing a weapon. The soldiers beat M.A. and their younger brother, K.A., who is 15. Meanwhile, the girl was ordered to fetch her brother’s I.D. card and was followed by two soldiers into the bedroom. When D.A. entered her brother’s bedroom one of the soldier’s pointed his weapon at her and told her to stand in the corner. ‘I was shivering in fear,’ recalls D.A. ‘I gave the I.D. to one of the soldiers and one of them ordered me to sit on the bed. They pointed their weapons at me and one of them sat beside me. Some of them were taking pictures of the house with a digital camera.’ The soldier sitting next to D.A. on the bed then stood up and ordered her to lift the mattress to see what was underneath. ‘You lift the mattress and we step away,’ said one of the soldiers. ‘I did so while I was quivering because I was very scared. They moved three metres back towards the door while aiming their weapons at me.’ D.A. was crying and shivering the whole time but was not strong enough to lift the mattress. Eventually the soldiers ordered her to leave it and ordered her to search the closets and other items in the room whilst pointing their weapons at her. After the search was over the soldiers took D.A.’s brother away.

The practice of using human shields involves forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations or using them to shield an area or troops from attack. Both of these circumstances expose civilians to physical, and sometimes, mortal danger. Civilians are usually threatened and/or physically coerced into performing these tasks, most of the time at gunpoint. The practice is illegal under both international and Israeli domestic law.

Since April 2004, DCI-Palestine has documented 15 cases involving Palestinian children being used as human shields by the Israeli army. Fourteen of the 15 cases, occurred after the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled the practice to be illegal in October 2005, suggesting that the army is not effectively implementing the Court’s decision.

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