Posted by: Lister | August 7, 2007

Iman Hams

I found this story while trying to find the name of another Palestinian girl who was wounded recently. I put that story in the previous post.

Iman Hams was shot dead in October 2004.

On the morning of Oct. 5, Iman Hams, a slight girl of 13 wearing a school uniform and toting a backpack crammed with books, wandered past an Israeli military outpost on the Gaza Strip’s southern border with Egypt.

The Israeli captain on duty alerted his troops to reports of a suspicious figure about 100 yards from the outpost. Soldiers fired into the air, according to radio transmissions, military court documents and witnesses.

“It’s a little girl,” a soldier watching from a nearby Israeli observation post cautioned over the military radio. “She’s running defensively eastward. . . . A girl of about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.”

Four minutes later, Israeli troops opened fire on the girl with machine guns and rifles, the radio transmissions indicated. The captain walked to the spot where the girl “was lying down” and fired two bullets from his M-16 assault rifle into her head, according to an indictment against the officer. He started to walk away, but pivoted, set his rifle on automatic and emptied his magazine into the girl’s prone body, the indictment alleged.

“This is Commander,” the captain said into the radio when he was finished. “Whoever dares to move in the area, even if it’s a 3-year-old — you have to kill him. Over.”

The girl’s body was peppered with at least 20 bullets, including seven in her head, said Ali Mousa, a physician who is director of the Rafah hospital where her corpse was examined.

An investigation was undertaken, and the military’s top commanders — including the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon — said repeatedly that the captain had acted properly under the circumstances. But Israeli newspapers published graphic accounts by soldiers who said they witnessed the incident, and Israel’s Channel 2 television aired recordings of the radio transmissions.

As a result, the company commander — identified by the army only as Capt. R — was indicted this past week on charges of misuse of a firearm, ordering subordinates to lie about the shooting and violation of military regulations. In addition, the military moved to reexamine the investigation, which Yaalon conceded had been “a grave failure” and which the indictment alleged was the subject of an attempted coverup.

The ordinary soldiers wouldn’t back any cover-up. Yaalon used stories like the girl was “a lure to draw soldiers from the outpost”; that she had thrown down her school bag and run — it might have been a bomb.

From the BBC:

Without revealing their identities, soldiers from the Givati brigade platoon told Israeli television how Iman al-Hams had been shot on 5 October in the Tel Sultan neighbourhood of Rafah.

“We saw her from a distance of 70 metres. She was fired at … from the outpost. She fled and was wounded,” a soldier said.

While Iman was lying, wounded or dead, about 70m from the Israeli guard post, the platoon commander approached her and fired two bullets from close range at her head, the soldiers said.

He then went back a second time, put his weapon on the automatic setting and – ignoring their objections on the walkie-talkie – emptied his entire magazine into her body.

“We couldn’t believe what he had done. Our hearts ached for her. Just a 13-year-old girl,” one soldier said.

[…] It was reported that the Israeli troops had initially thought her satchel contained explosives – although it was found only to contain school books.

Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Moshe Ayalon defended his troops on Sunday, telling the Israeli cabinet that Iman al-Hams had been sent towards the outpost to draw out the soldiers so that Palestinian snipers could fire at them.


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