Israeli occupying forces have historically committed crimes of massive proportions without censure or rebuke. Under the cover of being victims of Nazi-engineered war crimes during the last century, subsequent Israeli governments have launched their own versions of war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale so as not to draw global attention. Their targets? Defenceless Palestinians whose lands they illegally occupy. An event of note highlights this unhindered brutality.
More than 12 years ago, an Israeli army officer repeatedly shot a 10-year old Palestinian girl despite being reminded by his colleague that she was a child. He retorted, saying that he would kill her even if she was a three-year-old.
The officer, identified by the army only as Captain R, emptied all the bullets from his gun into Iman Al Hams when she walked into a “security area” on the edge of Rafah refugee camp in October 2004.
Soon afterwards, the Israeli army spin-machine went into an overdrive to cover the heinous crime by claiming that Iman was shot as she walked towards an army post with her schoolbag because soldiers feared she was carrying a bomb.
However, real evidence in the form of tape recordings of the radio conversation between soldiers at the scene revealed that, from the beginning, she was identified as a child and at no point was a bomb spoken about or was she described as a threat. Iman was also at least 100 yards from any soldier.
Instead, the tape shows that the soldiers swiftly identified her as a “girl of about 10” who was “scared to death”. The recording also reveals that the soldiers said Iman was headed eastward, away from the army post and back into the refugee camp, when she was shot.
As she walked back, Captain R then took the decision to leave the post in pursuit of the little girl. He shot her dead and then “confirmed the kill”. Doctors at Rafah’s hospital said she had been shot at least 17 times.
That particular event, which was captured on tape, is of a three-way conversation between the army watchtower, the army post’s operations room and the captain, who was a company commander. It went as follows:
The soldier in the watchtower radioed his colleagues after he saw Iman: “It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward.”
Operations room: “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?”
Watchtower: “A girl of about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.”
A few minutes later, Iman is shot in the leg from one of the army posts.
The watchtower: “I think that one of the positions took her out.”
The company commander then moves in as Iman lies wounded and helpless.
Captain R: “I and another soldier ... are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill ...
Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her ... I also confirmed the kill. Over.”
On the tape, the company commander then “clarifies” why he killed Iman: “This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over.”
The Israeli army’s original spin on the murder was that the soldiers only identified Iman as a child after she was first shot. But the voice recording shows that they were aware just how young the small, slight girl was before any shots were fired.
This incident only came to light when a couple of soldiers under Captain R felt a tug of conscience and went to the media to accuse the army of the cover-up of the murder of the young girl.
Despite the evidence on hand, with several eyewitnesses and the tape recording, the subsequent investigation by the officer responsible for the Gaza Strip, Major General Dan Harel, concluded that the captain had “not acted unethically”.
Iman’s parents were left to lament forever the holes in their hearts by the robbing of the life of their young one.
Such is the case of countless similar malicious acts perpetrated daily by the Israeli occupying forces and more recently from illegal Jewish colonists. Whether they are infants or toddlers, to the Israeli forces, the Palestinians are target practice. And yet the world sits in a hushed silence.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@talmaeena.