OPT: UN report says Israel used boy as human shield

Israeli soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, U.N. human rights experts said Monday.

The Israeli Defense force ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighbourhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the U.N. secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict.

The boy also was told to open the bags of Palestinians — presumably to protect the soldiers from possible explosives — before being released at the entrance to a hospital, Radhika Coomaraswamy said.

She said the Jan. 15 incident, after Israeli tanks had rolled into the neighborhood and during "intense operations," was a violation of Israeli and international law.

It was included in a 43-page report published Monday, and was just one of many verified human rights atrocities during the three-week war between Israel and Hamas that ended Jan. 18, she said.

Coomaraswamy accused Israeli soldiers of shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier.

"Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," said Coomaraswamy, who visited Gaza and Israel for five days in February.

Coomaraswamy said there also have been allegations that Hamas used human shields or fired from heavily populated areas, and that U.N. officials are investigating.

Israel criticised the report as "unable or perhaps unwilling" to address Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza or the threat of terrorism, citing Saturday's failed attempt to explode a car bomb in a Haifa mall parking lot as the most recent manifestation.

"The report claims to examine Israel's actions while it willfully ignores and downplays the terrorist and other threats we face," Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar told the 47-nation Human Rights Council.

Leshno Yaar said terrorists use women and children as human shields when they launch attacks from schools, homes, hospitals and mosques. He did not address the report's specific allegation about the boy, but an army spokesman rejected the claim.

"We are an army to which morals and high ethical standards are paramount," said Capt. Elie Isaacson.

Coomaraswamy said her list of Israeli violations constituted "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by U.N. officials who were in the territory.

She was the only one of the nine U.N. experts who compiled the report that was allowed into Gaza following the war. The experts covered issues ranging from health and hunger to women's rights and arbitrary executions.

The experts also noted reports that Hamas had committed other abuses. They said Hamas had been unwilling to investigate the allegations.

The report called for Israel to investigate human rights abuses that occurred during the conflict.

Last week Israel's military ordered a criminal inquiry into published reports from soldiers that some troops had knowingly killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

[Source: AFP]

Further information


pdf: http://www.crin.org/docs/A.HRC.10.22-1.pdf


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