ny times



Israeli Parliament Votes Its Displeasure With Sharon’s Plan for a Gaza Pullout


Published: October 12, 2004

In another development, Israel’s military said it was conducting two separate investigations into the shooting death last week of a 13-year-old Palestinian girl who was riddled with bullets as she walked near a military post near the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

At least two unidentified soldiers have spoken to the Israeli news media, saying one of their fellow soldiers told them to hold their fire because the Palestinian had been identified as a young girl and did not appear to be an imminent threat.

But the soldiers said that the girl, Iman al-Hams, had been fatally shot and that their platoon commander then approached her body and shot her repeatedly to make sure she was dead, the newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported.

The soldiers’ battalion commander and the military’s judge advocate general have both ordered investigations. In a statement, the military said it “recognizes the gravity of the incident, and the allegation requires a full investigation.”

Palestinians and human rights groups have often accused the military of firing recklessly during the last four years of fighting. The military says that civilian casualties are unintentional and that investigations are held when there is evidence that soldiers acted improperly.

In the Oct. 5 shooting, the military said that the girl was in an area where Palestinians are prohibited and that she had carried a bag that soldiers thought could be a bomb.

The Hams family said Iman had been on her way to school and was carrying books in her bag. It was not clear why she was so close to the Israeli outpost. Palestinian hospital officials in Rafah have said she was hit by 15 to 20 bullets.

The army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that the military believed that the girl had been sent toward the outpost to draw out soldiers and expose them to Palestinian gunmen.

“No Palestinian and certainly no schoolchild had any reason to go in the direction where she was going,” the general was quoted as saying.

In central Gaza on Monday, one Palestinian was killed during an exchange of fire between gunmen and the Israeli troops in the area of Deir al-Balah, the military and Palestinian hospital officials said.


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