Thursday, March 8, 2007

Israelis 'use girl as human shield'

Footage of 11-year old girl used as human shield during invasion of Nablus...

Israelis 'use girl as human shield'

Israeli soldiers have used an 11-year-old Palestinian girl as a "human shield" during an operation against fighters in the West Bank last week, an Israeli human rights group has said.
The Israeli army on Thursday said it was checking the information from the B'Tselem group, which monitors Israeli actions in the occupied territory.

B'Tselem said the girl, Jihan Daadush, told its interviewers that Israeli soldiers had entered her family home and questioned her and her relatives about the location of armed men who had fired at them during the raid.

'I was afraid'

The soldiers, she said, threatened to arrest her unless she led them to a nearby house.

"[A soldier] ordered me to go towards the house," B'Tselem quoted the girl as saying.

"Three soldiers walked behind me. When we reached the house, there were a lot of soldiers. The soldiers ordered me to go inside the house and I went inside."

B'Tselem said Jihan told them the soldiers asked about the rooms of the house. There was no mention in the report of whether troops found fighters inside.

The girl said two soldiers then returned her home.

"[One of the soldiers] told me, 'Thank you, but don't tell anyone,'" the girl said, according to B'Tselem.

"I was afraid they would kill me or put me in jail. I am still afraid the soldiers will invade the city again and take me away."

Shot dead

B'Tselem said evidence it had collected from the girl and other Palestinians with similar experiences indicated that the soldiers feared the houses they searched hid armed militants or that explosives had been planted in them.

It said the "human shields" was given tasks that "undoubtedly included an element of danger and it seems clear that the soldiers were aware of this".

B'tselem also said the army had used a 15-year-old Palestinian boy and a Palestinian man for a similar purpose during the five-day raid in Nablus.

During the incursion, troops shot dead a Palestinian civilian who had observed the raid from his rooftop.

Soldiers also detained 11 suspected fighters.

The Israeli army ended the operation on March 1.

Israeli law bans the military from using people as human shields.

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