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Israel used Palestinian children as human shields in West Bank raid

May 14, 2024 at 3:33 pm

(L to R) Karam, 13, Mohammad, 12, and Ibrahim, 14, were used as human shields by Israeli forces in separate incidents during an Israeli military incursion into Tulkarm refugee camp on 6 May 2024 [DCIP]

Israeli forces used three Palestinian boys as human shields in the northern occupied West Bank last week, Defence for Children International – Palestine said in a statement yesterday.

Karam, 13, Mohammad, 12, and Ibrahim, 14, were used as human shields by Israeli forces in separate incidents during an Israeli military incursion into Tulkarm refugee camp on 6 May, according to documentation collected by the rights group.

In all three incidents, armed Israeli soldiers forced the boys to walk in front of them as soldiers searched Palestinian homes and neighbourhoods in Tulkarm refugee camp, and in two cases, Israeli forces fired weapons positioned on the boys’ shoulders.

“International law is explicit and absolutely prohibits the use of children as human shields by armed forces or armed groups,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability programme director at DCIP. “Israeli forces intentionally putting a child in grave danger in order to shield themselves constitutes a war crime.”

Around 30 Israeli occupation soldiers entered 13-year-old Karam’s home on the morning of 6 May, located on the third floor of an apartment building. They then isolated his family in one room and forced Karam to walk in front of them, open the doors to each room and enter it before them. Then, Israeli forces moved Karam and his family to the fourth floor of the building, where the rest of the building’s residents were held, DCIP said.

Israeli forces then took Karam to the building’s staircase, where they were accompanied by a “huge military dog,” as Karam told DCIP. While they were walking, one soldier placed his rifle on Karam’s right shoulder and fired two shots toward an apartment in the building.

“I was crying and shaking in fear, and whenever I begged the soldiers to stop, they would scream at me and order me to be silent,” Karam said.

“While we were climbing up the stairs, three soldiers assaulted me severely with black sticks that they had. They beat me on my lower limbs and my back for about five minutes, while they were telling me that I was a terrorist. When I reached the fourth floor, I was exhausted and could not stand as a result of the beating and fear. I was kept with the residents of the building until around 7pm, during which the soldiers did not allow us to eat anything,” Karam told DCIP.

Twelve-year-old Mohammad told DCIP that his family decided to go to their relatives’ house in Tulkarm refugee camp after they heard that Israeli forces had besieged the camp so they would not be alone. The building was raided and Mohammad was taken away by the soldiers.

“They were armed, masked, and had frightening appearances. They had a huge military dog that made terrifying sounds,” Mohammad told DCIP.

“The soldiers told me to knock on the doors of the apartments in the building, while they were standing behind me at a fairly short distance, and to ask the residents to come out, and this is what I did,” Mohammad added.

He described how at one point, a soldier charged with guarding him “assaulted me with a wooden stick for about 10 minutes. He hit me on my head and back.”

“One soldier also put his rifle on my shoulder and fired several bullets at the ceiling of the staircase.”

Fourteen-year-old Ibrahim described a similar experience. “I was trembling because of intense fear and terror,” he said. “At first, I thought they wanted to arrest me, but they told me to walk in front of them in the alleys … They would hide in the alleys and tell me to see if there was anyone around.”

Since 2000, DCIP says it has documented 34 cases involving Palestinian children being used as human shields by the Israeli occupation army.

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