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October 04, 2010

Two soldiers convicted for using 9-year-old boy as human shield



[4 October 2010] – On 3 October 2010, the Israeli southern command military court convicted two soldiers for using nine-year-old Majed R. as a human shield on 15 January 2009, during the war in Gaza. According to Haaretz Newspaper, the soldiers were convicted of inappropriate behaviour and overstepping authority for ordering Majed, who was nine at the time, to open bags suspected of being booby trapped at gunpoint.

These convictions follow a joint complaint filed by DCI-Israel and DCI-Palestine with the Israeli authorities on 28 April 2009. In addition to Majed's case, the complaint requested that the authorities investigate nine other cases of children alleged to have been used as human shields between February 2007 and January 2009. As far as DCI is aware, Majed's was the only case in which the authorities opened an investigation. Further, on at least four occasions during the course of the investigation, DCI-Israel requested that the Israeli authorities provide a copy of the charge sheet for the purposes of seeking legal advice as to the appropriateness of the charges in light of the gravity of the offence. In spite of these requests, a copy of the charge sheet was never provided to DCI.

DCI-Palestine welcomes the investigation and prosecution of the two soldiers who used nine-year-old Majed as a human shield, but repeat our demand that all cases of children used as human shields must be thoroughly and impartially investigated in accordance with international standards, and where appropriate, prosecutions initiated.

So far in 2010, DCI-Palestine has documented two more cases of children being used as human shields. In one case, a 16-year-old girl from Nablus reported being used as a human shield by soldiers on 18 February, after soldiers stormed her house in the early hours of the morning. DCI-Palestine and Adalah lodged a complaint with the Israeli authorities calling for an investigation into the case on 20 September 2010. In the other case, a 14-year-old boy from Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron, reported being used as a human shield by soldiers on 16 April 2010. On 3 August 2010, DCI-Palestine lodged a complaint in the case with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for further investigation. The boy's parents did not wish to lodge a complaint with the Israeli authorities as they have no confidence that the authorities will impartially investigate their son's case.

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. So far, Majed's is the only case in which an investigation has been initiated.

 Table 1 – Child human shield cases documented by DCI-Palestine since 2004

# Name Date of incident Age at incident Nature of incident Action
1 M.B. 15 Apr 04 13 Tied to the bonnet of a military jeep for four hours during clashes. -

October 2005
Israeli High Court rules that the use of civilians as human shields is illegal
 
2 A.E. 26 Feb 07 15 Forced at gunpoint to walk in front of soldiers during clashes. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
3 J.D. 28 Feb 07 11 Forced at gunpoint to walk in front of soldiers and enter an abandoned house in search of combatants. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
4 I.M. 11 Apr 07 14 Forced to sit for 15 minutes on the bonnet of a jeep during clashes. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
5 O.G. 11 Apr 07 15 Forced to sit for 10 minutes on the bonnet of a jeep during clashes. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
6 R.N. 11 Jul 07 14 Wounded whilst being forced to evacuate a house. -
7 A.S. 04 Jan 09 14 Detained for 10 days and forced to search houses during war in Gaza. -
8 A.A. 05 Jan 09 15 Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
9 A.A. 05 Jan 09 16 Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
10 N.A. 05 Jan 09 17 Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
11 K.A. 05 Jan 09 15 Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
12 H.A. 05 Jan 09 12 Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – no action.
13 Majed R. 15 Jan 09 9 Forced at gunpoint to search bags thought to contain explosives during war in Gaza. Complaint filed on 28 April 2009 – two soldiers convicted on 3 October 2010.
14 D.A. 18 Feb 10 16 Forced at gunpoint to search for a weapon. Complaint filed on 20 September 2010.
15 S.A. 16 Apr 10 14 Forced at gunpoint to walk in front of soldiers during clashes. Complaint submitted to the UN on 3 August 2010.
 

DCI-Palestine seeks full and impartial investigations meeting international standards in all cases involving the use of children as human shields. Further, the Israeli army must be given adequate training and supervision to ensure compliance with the 2005 ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice. The investigations must also enquire into the responsibility of the army's top command echelon for the continued use of children as human shields.

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Related information:

Haaretz: IDF soldiers convicted of using 11-year-old as human shield in Gaza

BBC: Two Israeli soldiers guilty of using human shield in Gaza

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