Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Innocence Broken With Lies

Remember I posted about the Palestinians used as human shields by the Israeli army? According to B'Tselem's report that was posted on their website today, the victims include a fifteen-year-old boy and an eleven-year-old girl. The following is an extract from their findings:

According to the testimonies, on the first day of the operation, around five o'clock in the morning, soldiers came to the house of the 'Amirah family, in the Old City , and removed all the occupants from the house and took them to a nearby house, where other Palestinians were also being held. Then the soldiers ordered one of the family, 15-year old 'Amid to accompany them in their search of three other houses. According to 'Amid's testimony, the soldiers pushed him with the barrels of their rifles and forced him to enter rooms of the house in front of them, open cabinets and empty out the contents, and open windows. In one instance, according to the testimony, a soldier shot several shots into the room.

In its letter to the Judge Advocate General, B'Tselem pointed out that this was the fourth time since June 2006 (when "Operation Summer Rains," in Gaza , took place), that the organization had documented Israeli soldiers' use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. As far as B'Tselem knows, in only one of these cases did the JAG order a Military Police investigation. That investigation has not yet been completed. In light of these cases, B'Tselem expressed its concern that the military order prohibiting this practice is not property communicated to soldiers, and that the delay in investigating these incidents conveys a message of lenience in the military's treatment of soldiers who engage in such practices. [emphasis mine]

It goes without saying that it is entirely unacceptable for children to be used in this way. It reflects a wider trend for children to be treated as combatants in war. After all, Israel's biggest backer has children locked up at Guantanamo as 'enemy combatants'. There was a time when the militarisation of children was abhorred by civilised states. Now, it would appear, treating children as a part of the wartime environment is par for the course. It is about time all civilised people came together and called for an end to the growing use of children in the battlefield. Whatever happened to innocence?

Further information: B'Tselem's investigation.
Related: B'Tselem have also released a study on the infringement of the human rights of the tens of thousands of Palestinian workers staying in Israel without a permit. You can read more here.