Israeli soldiers walk free in Gaza human shield case
JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Two Israeli soldiers received suspended sentences and demotions Sunday for using a Palestinian child as a human shield by making him check for bombs during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, army radio said.
The radio's correspondent, who attended the hearing, said the two were each given suspended sentences of three months imprisonment and were demoted from the rank of staff sergeant to sergeant. The military spokesman's office had no immediate comment.
The soldiers were convicted on Oct. 3 of "exceeding their authority to the point of endangering life," and "conduct unbecoming" members of the armed forces, for forcing a nine-year-old boy to search bags confiscated from arrested Palestinians and suspected of being booby-trapped.
Israel's Supreme Court has banned such actions, saying they amount to using a civilian as a human shield.
During the trial, the boy, identified as Majd R, said he feared for his life. "I thought they would kill me. I became very scared and wet my pants," he said in an affidavit given to Defense for Children International, a Geneva-based group.
The military court did, however, rule that when the incident occurred in January 2009, the troops had been under "difficult and dangerous combat conditions" and had gone several nights without sleep.
Israel launched its 22-day offensive against the Gaza Strip in December 2008 in a bid to halt Palestinian rocket fire from the territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement. The fighting killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Seriously, they used a child as a human shield? This goes to my point mentioned below that just because one group has a bunch who are bad people does not make their opponents good people. Israel using children as human shields and use of white phosphorous:
Indiscriminate Attacks Caused Needless Civilian Suffering
(Jerusalem) - Israel's repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 71-page report, "Rain of Fire: Israel's Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza," provides witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza. Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. The report also presents ballistics evidence, photographs, and satellite imagery, as well as documents from the Israeli military and government.
Militaries use white phosphorus primarily to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It can also be used as an incendiary weapon.
"In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died."
The report documents a pattern or policy of white phosphorus use that Human Rights Watch says must have required the approval of senior military officers.
"For the needless civilian deaths caused by white phosphorus, senior commanders should be held to account," Abrahams said.
On February 1, Human Rights Watch submitted detailed questions to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) about its white phosphorus use in Gaza. The IDF did not provide responses, citing an internal inquiry being conducted by the Southern Command.
In the recent Gaza operations, Israeli forces frequently air-burst white phosphorus in 155mm artillery shells in and near populated areas. Each air-burst shell spreads 116 burning white phosphorus wedges in a radius extending up to 125 meters from the blast point. White phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning at up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius) until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When white phosphorus comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns.
When used properly in open areas, white phosphorus munitions are not illegal, but the Human Rights Watch report concludes that the IDF repeatedly exploded it unlawfully over populated neighborhoods, killing and wounding civilians and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse, and a hospital.
Israel at first denied it was using white phosphorus in Gaza but, facing mounting evidence to the contrary, said that it was using all weapons in compliance with international law. Later it announced an internal investigation into possible improper white phosphorus use.
"Past IDF investigations into allegations of wrongdoing suggest that this inquiry will be neither thorough nor impartial," Abrahams said. "That's why an international investigation is required into serious laws of war violations by all parties."
The IDF knew that white phosphorus poses life-threatening dangers to civilians, Human Rights Watch said. A medical report prepared during the recent hostilities by the Israeli ministry of health said that white phosphorus "can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed." Burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart, the ministry report says. Infection is common and the body's absorption of the chemical can cause serious damage to internal organs, as well as death.
If the IDF intended to use white phosphorus as a smokescreen for its forces, it had a readily available non-lethal alternative to white phosphorus - smoke shells produced by an Israeli company, Human Rights Watch concluded.
All of the white phosphorus shells that Human Rights Watch found were manufactured in the United States in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace, which was running the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant at the time. On January 4, Reuters photographed IDF artillery units handling projectiles whose markings indicate that they were produced in the United States at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in September 1991.
To explain the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza, Israeli officials have repeatedly blamed Hamas for using civilians as "human shields" and for fighting from civilian sites. In the cases documented in the report, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of Hamas using human shields in the vicinity at the time of the attacks. In some areas Palestinian fighters appear to have been present, but this does not justify the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in a populated area.
Human Rights Watch said that for multiple reasons it concluded that the IDF had deliberately or recklessly used white phosphorus munitions in violation of the laws of war. First, the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus in populated areas until the last days of the operation reveals a pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage. Second, the IDF was well aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians. Third, the IDF failed to use safer available alternatives for smokescreens.
The laws of war obligate states to investigate impartially allegations of war crimes. The evidence available demands that Israel investigate and prosecute as appropriate those who ordered or carried out unlawful attacks using white phosphorus munitions, Human Rights Watch said.
The United States government, which supplied Israel with its white phosphorus munitions, should also conduct an investigation to determine whether Israel used it in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said.
A U.S. citizen who lived in Turkey is among the nine
people killed when Israeli commandos stormed a
Turkish aid ship heading for the Gaza Strip, officials
The victim was identified as Furkan Dogan, 19, a
Turkish-American. A forensic report said he was shot
at close range, with four bullets in his head and one
in his chest, according to the Anatolian news agency.
Dogan was a high school student studying social
sciences in the town of Kayseri in central Turkey. He
was born in Troy, N.Y., and moved to Turkey at the
age of 2. He will be buried in his hometown
Dogan's body was returned to Turkey today along
with eight others, all Turkish nationals, who were on
board the Mavi Marmara.
The ship was sponsored by a Turkish charity, the
Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and
Humanitarian Relief (IHH) and was carrying aid to
Gaza in defiance of the Israeli blockade. The charity
released the names of all nine dead. All are male and
the ages range from 32 to 61.
The Mavi Marmara formed part of a flotilla that was
organized by the Free Gaza movement and intended
to break the three-year Israeli blockade on the
embattled Palestinian enclave.
Israeli commandos rappelled onto the decks of the
six ships Monday, but on the Mavi Marmara the
passengers battled the soldiers with metal rods,
wrested weapons from soldiers and, according to the
Israeli military, fired on them. Nine people died and
more than 30 were wounded, including several Israeli
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The activists on board the ship told a very different
version of events from the one released by the Israeli
And one other thing, Israel like Iran now has morality police deeming immodest clothing as a crime worthy of acid in the face:
A 14-year-old girl from Beitar Illite was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem after an unknown person spilled acid on her face, legs and stomach, causing light burn wounds.
The act has been attributed to a representative of the so-called 'modesty guard' in this town where religious and secular residents are increasingly at bitter odds.
MDA received the call just before midnight on Wednesday and paramedic Dror Eini who arrived on the scene to treat the girl also managed to calm her down enough so she could explain what had happened.
Eini told Ynet that “the modesty guards have been threatening her for quite some time.” According to the paramedic the focus of the threats has largely been the victim's 18-year-old sister and some suspect the attacker mistook the younger girl's identity for that of her older sister's.
Eini said the teenager was in a difficult emotional state: “She cried the whole way to the hospital, partly because she was in pain but mostly because she was terrified.” According to Eini at the time of her attack the girl had been wearing loose-fitting long pants and a short-sleeved shirt.
“If she would have been wearing the same thing in Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv, she would not have stuck out in any way,” he added.
An ultra-Orthodox teen from Beitar Illite who is in contact with the girl’s family spoke with her sister who described the incident. According to the boy, the attacker stopped the girl and first asked her for directions. Then, after confirming her surname, he spilled a bottle of acid on her.
The girl was released from the hospital on Thursday and the police sent samples of the liquid she was attacked with for analysis.
According to the young man, her family is under severe pressure. “What makes the treatment of this case so problematic is the feeling that there is no one to talk to in this city and no one wants to find a solution to this problem.” Fingers are being pointed towards the municipality for failing to treat troubled youths.
With friends like this, why do we need enemies in the region? On the other hand every President since FDR has allied with the Saudi barbarians, so.....yeah.