Special report: `“No need to receive open-fire orders`

September 19, 2005 6:26 AM IMEMC & Agencies Israel, Israeli attacks, News Report 0

“Another pediatric, and a baker where shot in the face by the Paratroopers Unit, we broke into homes all day long, and killed children”, An Introduction of a report published by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reads.

These words are part of a song the Israeli military units which operated in Nablus since the beginning of 2004, keep singing.

“By the end of this month, the sever clashes will finish their fifth year, yet the army does not believe that it needs written orders to open fire”, the report reads.

Since the beginning of Al Aqsa Intifada late 2000, soldiers started receiving verbal orders to open fire at the Palestinians; these orders differ from one area to another, from one officer to another.

The report also included the case of the five residents who were killed in Tulkarem refugee camp recently, the army claimed they were armed, but it appeared that they were unarmed and not members of any faction.

Several petitions were filed to the Israeli High Court of Justice regarding these orders; the army admits that 70 women were killed, 11 children under the age of two, 90 children 3-12 years old, and 203 children 12-17 years old were among the Palestinians killed as a result of this policy. 

The army said that the orders differ from one area to another, and that direct orders given to the soldiers in the past proved to be ineffective, and involve mistakes, therefore firing orders became the responsibility of field officers.

An military officer of one of the operating units said that his squad killed six innocent civilians, “We killed them and laughed at them, we killed a baker, a women, and old man, and others, they were all killed by illegal orders”, he said,  “We received dozens of shoot-to-kill orders, to shoot and kill any moving object”.

“In Nablus, we used to break into the homes which are attached to each other; we used to explode the walls in order to cross from one home to another, one of our snipers noticed a Palestinian man walking in a street at 2 A.M, he was unarmed, but we were instructed to kill him, because he might be someone who is monitoring our movements, and we did, we killed him”.

The same officer said that in another incident, their next victim was a baker, Ala Ed-Deen from Nablus.

“We saw him carrying a bag in his hand; we received direct orders to kill him although he was far away from us and there was no way to tell if he is armed, he wasn’t armed after all, he was carrying clothes”.

The officer also said that he and soldiers of his unit received several similar orders in the Gaza Strip.

Soldier “K” said that a military unit, backed up by tanks, invaded Dir Al Balah in the Gaza Strip; the unit received direct orders to “kill any moving object”.

“We noticed a resident running, he was unarmed, but we shot him and stood close to his corpse and emptied our magazines in his body, we were happy to have this sort of excitement”.

Soldier “E” from the paratroopers division, said that he and his unit received similar orders in Jenin.

“Our orders were clear, an ordinary civilian should not be present in the street at night, he should be killed instantly”, the soldier said.

Soldier “R” also said that he and his unit did not know anything about Jihad Al Nathour, 24, who walks in the street of Nablus at dawn during Ramadan month, with a drum in his hand calling the residents for prayers.

“We saw him in the street with a drum in his hand, he ran away as we ordered him to stop”, the soldier said, “we managed to kill him in an alley in Nablus, we hurled grenades at him, and then we shot him in the head to make sure he is dead”.

Also, “R” added that while his unit was firing at civilians in Nablus, a 24-year-old woman was shot in her head, and an old man was injured in his stomach.

The Israeli military prosecutor said that the army cannot punish the soldiers who killed Al Nathour, “There was a mistake” he said, “the soldiers could not know what was he carrying, when he ran away they fired at him, but I did not receive any report of a confirm kill case”.

Soldiers “M”, member of the Givati brigade which was operating near Ghani Tal settlement, in the Gaza Strip, said that there is a long line separating the settlement from Khan Younis.

“Palestinian children used to play football, whenever their ball was accidentally kicked at our side we used to fire warning shots at them, it was like cat and mouse game”, M said, “Once, a nine-year-old child was running after the ball, we shot him in his knee, and now he will live disabled for the rest of his life”.  

Member of the paratrooper division “R” said that he heard through the wireless that a child was shot injured in Nablus, “The commander said that he accidentally shot the child in his leg, he wanted to shoot him in his chest!”, R said, “He directly shot him because he considered him a threat, and a resident who practices incitement”.

The child was identified as Hani Qandoul, 13 years old; he was killed during an operation in the city which left five Palestinian children dead. 

Another soldier from the “Shildagh” division, which was operating in Rafah, said that in June 2004, his unit “was bored because Palestinian resistance groups did not fire at them on that day”.

“We did not see any armed fighter, no shootings were reported in the area”, the soldiers said, “so, we decided to level homes and hothouses there”.

“Our orders were clear, every Palestinian on the rooftop of his home should be killed, he might be monitoring us after all”, the soldier added, “every resident in the street is a possible suspect, and he might be there to place some explosives, so he should be killed”. 

“Once we saw a Palestinian resident on the rooftop of his home, we received orders to kill him, so three snipers fired at him, and killed him”, the soldier stated, “we shot him in his chest, our snipers are well trained, and they wanted to show how good they are in hitting their targets”, he added.

Also, a soldier known as “K” from the Nahal Haridi brigade said that his brigade was positioned near Ramallah, to guard the settlement of Psagot, and to monitor Al Biereh city.

 “The situation was relatively calm, we were instructed to fire back at any source of fire, we were at least 600 meters away from Palestinian populated areas”, K said, “We were fired at, but couldn’t see the source of fire clearly, so we started shooting at a Palestinian home, we targeted the windows, the doors, and everywhere”.

Another Givati soldier said that he unit was operating near Rafah in June 2004.

“We used to train by firing at an abandoned home, we used to throw grenades too, and sometimes we used rocket launchers”, he said, “Whenever we missed our target, our shells and bullets hit Palestinian populated areas, each firing round included 20 grenades”.

“Several civilians were hit, homes and Palestinian properties, but these trainings were officials approved by the army’s higher command.

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