The killer of 13-year old Iman Al Hams, a girl who was cowering behind a stone and positively identified as a child before she was shot, and then was shot multiple times to ‘confirm the kill’, according to the Israeli military transcript of the incident, has received 80,000 NIS (about $15,000) compensation for the ‘trouble’ of having gone to court.
Failure in probe? Or is the life of a 13-year old child not worth the trouble?
Iman Al Hamas, a 13-year old Palestinian girl, was shot by more than 23 bullets near the Girit Israeli military military outpost in Rafah, in October 2004. The soldier who fired at her, and completed the ‘confirm kill’ procedure by firing at her dead body, was not only acquitted of all charges, but recently received a promotion to the rank of major.
The soldier, identified as captain “R”, who repeatedly fired at the child, is a Druze captain in the Israeli army. He did have a trial for the event, but was acquitted of all charges.
On Thursday February 16, 2006, the Israeli military police internal investigations revealed that there had been major failures in the investigation of the killing.
According to a report published by the Israeli online daily Haaretz, Israeli Military Police Commander Brigadier General Roni Benny recently appointed two reserve officers to examine the military police’s conduct during the investigation.
The examination conducted by the two officers revealed that the investigators acted unprofessionally and with negligence. They criticized the decision not to appoint a special investigation team for the case. The team was supposed to have been led by higher-ranking and more experienced officials.
Radio recordings which documented the communication between the soldiers at the outpost and their leaders revealed that the incident was in fact a cold-blooded murder.
During Captain “R”’s trial, which ultimately resulted in his acquittal, the Israeli military prosecution charged Captain “R” of misusing his arms by emptying his magazine in the dead body of Al Hams, even after confirming she had been killed.
The prosecution also accused “R” of obstruction of court proceedings after asking his soldiers to alter testimonies they provided to military investigators probing the incident. Israeli media sources reported that Yoav Meni and Elad Eisenberg, the two lawyers representing “R”, managed to outline contradictions in the testimonies of the “witnesses”. The witnesses, soldiers under the command of Captain “R”, said that they lied during interrogation, and lied in the sworn testimonies that they had supplied to the court in order to oust “R” from the division.
Captain “R”’s lawyer argued the “confirm kill” of the girl’s death is a known practice used by the Israeli army to “eliminate threats”, which in this case was a terrified, unarmed, crying Palestinian child.
The 13-year-old school girl was on her way to school when she was killed on October 5, 2004. Although she is just one of 850 children killed by the Israeli army since the start of the current stage of conflict in 2000, her death became one of the few that was widely publicized, due to the leak of a tape of the incident. The following is a transcription of the radio transmission between troops and their commander:
“we identified an Arab female 100m from the gate of the outpost”
“what did you see?”
“Root, we saw one on "two legs" 100m away from the post.”
“Sfard, can you see her?”
“positive, a little girl running, the target is moving to the east.”
“define the position.”
“north of Morshah”
“position not correct”
“she is now behind the digger, she is dying of fear, shots passed few centimeters from her.”
“they are shooting at her; our soldiers are 70m away from her.”
“I believe one of our posts ‘brought her down’”
“what? Did you see that she was hit? did she fell down?”
“yes, and she is not moving.”
“I and Jefro are moving forward to confirm the killing, cover for us. The situation is as follows: we conducted orders and fired at her, she wears jeans, a T-shirt, and a head cover. Killing confirmed.”
“any thing that moves in this domain, even if a three year old should be killed.”
After the killing of Al-Hams, the lawyers of ‘R’ Elad Eisenberg and Yoav Meni tried to focus of the system itself and the rules of engagement used by the army.
“Instead of putting ‘R’ on trial, an entire system was on trial. This system allows the army to conduct lethal action in Gaza leading to the death of dozens of innocent civilians”, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
Instead, the officer was acquitted, rewarded, promoted and continues to serve in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
22% of the Palestinians killed by the Israeli army during Al Aqsa Intifada which erupted late 2000 were children. They were killed in the streets, schools, and at home during military shelling to Palestinian houses.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army since the beginning of the Intifada until February 13, 2006 is 3,808 residents, and 29,456 were injured.
The number of children killed by Israeli military fire since the beginning of the Intifada is 851, including 160 who were under the age of 12.
Apparently, the so-called ‘failure to investigate’ cases of Palestinian civilians killed by the Israeli military seems to be a recurrent issue.
The case of Al-Hams did not carry any criminal proceedings because the investigators themselves were involved in the shooting which lead to the death of the girl. Now, the army says that there was a failure in probing the ‘confirm kill’ case that claimed the life of a 13-year old Palestinian child.
Apparently, the lives of the Palestinians, including children, are not even worth a thorough investigation by the state of Israel.