DCI-Palestine has received credible evidence that on 16 April 2010, a 14-year-old boy was used as a human shield by units of the Israeli army whilst conducting operations in the village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It is alleged that two soldiers forced the boy to walk in front of them in an attempt to shield the soldiers from stones being thrown during clashes with local Palestinian youths. The boy was subsequently tied, blindfolded and beaten, before being released several hours later, without charge. Part of the incident was photographed and reported in Ma'an News.
The practice of using human shields involves forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations or using them to shield an area or troops from attack. Both of these circumstances expose civilians to physical, and sometimes, mortal danger. Civilians are usually threatened and/or physically coerced into performing these tasks, most of the time at gunpoint. The practice is illegal under both international and Israeli domestic law.
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.
|#||Name||Date of incident||Age at incident||Nature of incident|
|1||M.B.||15 Apr 04||13||Tied to the bonnet of a military jeep for four hours during clashes.|
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.|
|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.|
|4||I.M.||11 Apr 07||14||Forced to sit for 15 minutes on the bonnet of a jeep during clashes.|
|5||O.G.||11 Apr 07||15||Forced to sit for 10 minutes on the bonnet of a jeep during clashes.|
|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.|
|9||A.A.||05 Jan 09||16||Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza.|
|10||N.A.||05 Jan 09||17||Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza.|
|11||K.A.||05 Jan 09||15||Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza.|
|12||H.A.||05 Jan 09||12||Detained close to military operations for four days during war in Gaza.|
|13||Majed R.||15 Jan 09||9||Forced at gunpoint to search bags thought to contain explosives during war in Gaza.|
|14||D.A.||18 Feb 10||16||Forced at gunpoint to search for a weapon.|
|15||S.A.||16 Apr 10||14||Forced at gunpoint to walk in front of soldiers during clashes.|
On 28 April 2009, DCI-Israel wrote to the Israeli Ministers of Justice and Defence requesting information regarding what measures the authorities had taken to investigate five specified incidents involving the use of children as human shields. Some seven months later, DCI received a response from the authorities, dated 3 November 2009, requesting further information regarding just one of the incidences referred to, the case of nine-year-old Majed R. who was used as a human shield during the war in Gaza. Two soldiers were subsequently charged in the case with deviating from authority to the extent of endangering life or health and unbecoming behaviour, in circumstances where the child was forced at gunpoint to search bags thought to potentially contain explosives. A decision has yet to be handed down in the case. As far as DCI is aware, no other investigations leading to charges have been conducted in the 14 other documented cases, and the authorities have not requested any further information.
DCI reiterates its position that full and impartial investigations meeting international standards must be carried out in all cases involving the use of children as human shields, and that the army be given adequate training and supervision to ensure compliance with the 2005 ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice.
The 14-year-old boy the subject of the present complaint continues to experience behavioural problems, lack of concentration and memory loss since reportedly being used as a human shield in April 2010.