Thursday, March 30, 2006

Israeli army to probe murder of Gaza sheperdess by occupation soldier

According to Haaretz, the Israely Army has launched a formal investigation into the death of a Palestinian shepherdess, 25-year-old Nayfa Abu Imsa'id, who was killed by Israeli sniper fire as she was herding her flock with her friend last month. I reported on the story, which got very little press at the time (surprise, surprise), for Aljazeera.

According to the article, "An investigation on the scene raised the suspicion that the soldier violated the army's rules of engagement." Ya think?

Nayfa was killed by a single, high-velocity bullet to the heart. It was broad daylight outside. And she was several hundred metres away from the fence. Yet time and again, such atrocious acts are completely dismissed by both the media and the Israeli military apparatus.

When I confronted an Israeli army spokesperson about the incident at the time, I was told that after soldiers saw Nayfa and her friend near the border they "fired two warning shots", and that the it is difficult for them to "distinguish" between woman, child, or gunman, insisting there are "rules of engagement" to be followed in such circumstances.

As I mentioned when I wrote about the issue earlier, Gaza's border area has become an ostensible killing zone, where anyone-child, man, or sheperdess, will get killed if they enter within several hundred metres of the zone.

The Israeli human rights group B'tselem says that as part of these new rules of engagement, "soldiers are required to open fire whenever Palestinians enter places defined as 'dangerous areas' (primarily around the Gaza Strip fence)," a protocal they call "lethal ambiguity". In addition, soldiers are allowed to use ammunition capable of killing at very long range, such as bombs weighing hundreds of kilograms dropped by aircraft, and flechette shells (which are composed of darts) fired by tanks.

According to UN statistics, at least 30 unarmed Palestinians, including 5 children, have been killed or seriously injured by Israeli troops for being too close to the Gaza border since the Israeli disengagement.

Just a few days prior to Nayfa's death, eight-year-old Aya al-Astal was killed after being shot four times -twice in the neck - by Israeli soldiers stationed just outside the border. A Palestinian ambulance found her bullet-riddled body hours after the incident. No investigation was ever made for Aya's death.

B'tselem says that since the start of the second Intifada, out of thousands of Palestinian deaths, 20% of whom were minors, the Military Police investigated only 131 cases involving shooting by soldiers. 18 of these investigations resulted in the filing of indictments.

Only one was convicted for shooting to death a Palestinian boy. His penalty was four months in jail and a reduction of rank.

When I confronted the Israeli army about such figures (which he more or less confirmed) during an invesigative piece I wrote in May of 2004, around the time of the second Rafah incursion, the spokesperson insisted that the army does punish soldiers for their actions, even if such punishment are not "publicized".

When pressed, the spokesperson was unable to provide examples of how soldiers convicted of other crimes were punished. Instead, he told me:

“The fact that the IDF conducts criminal investigations during intensive conflict is testimony to the high level of professionalism and morality embodied by the IDF. [We] have an entire unit in the army that is devoted to teaching and instilling an ethical code within its soldiers and commanders."


Let us hope the investigation into Nayfa's death does not end again rewarding the perpetrator ala Iman al-Hams, nor perpetuate the impunity within the Israeli army and become another statistic on the ever-increasing left-hand column.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Layla, as a Palestinian, please tell me when is this madness going to stop? : Three Israelis were killed when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated explosives in a car after nightfall Thursday at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, located west of Nablus..............Is Yousuf going to be taught to honor or become a "shahid" in his Gaza school?

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He who wins the war writes the history.
The Israelis (Zionist) are winning and they have Bush on their side.
The Palestinians are fighting occupiers.
Annonomys can say anything they want because they are Annonomys.
That makes them null and void as commentators.
The Bobsy twins are just echoes of the same news.
The true news is what the mainstream news doesn't print because it embarrases King George.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Moses said...

Look if the wall was about security and not about land stealing it'd be on the 1967 line =inside= Israel's border. Not twisted around like an unhealthy colon.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I concerned,both sides are loosing.
It does not help anyone if Laila still writing about how many did Israeli soldiers killed if at the other side Palestinians still blowing up theirselves.
It´s like a vicious cicle,I stop if you do.
And does not help if Kimmy just demonstrate how much racist he is.Without bringing any healthy comment or intelligent one.
Facts are facts. Both are wrong,both side kills,and its not going to bring anything good.
That´s why the wall exists,that´s why you have a front door in your house,to protect you,and do not come to me to tell about separatism,because there is not a single Jew living in Palestine,and they are not intended to allow any,to live there as well.
And if "king George" is at our side do not forget they should have the entire Arab League at their side as well,where are the "twenty two" brothers?!?
They have together much more money and power don´t you think so?
The issue is: They don´t have anyinterest to help.They don´t care.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An unnecessary death.

Which leads to:

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." - HAMAs charter.

Which leads to:

"An attempted terrorist attack was thwarted on Wednesday (29/03/06) when an eight year old Palestinian boy arrived at the Bikaot crossing, east of Nablus. The soldiers from the Nahal Haredi Brigade, who were manning the crossing became suspicious of the boy, prompting them to conducted a search of his body, uncovering an explosives belt which was hidden under the boys clothing. Border Police sappers destroyed the explosives in a controlled manner." [Caution: IDF source. The same IDF who shot the sheperdess.]

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Hamas, as the leader of the Palestinian government, going to lead an investigation as to how an 8 year child was going to blow himself up at an Israeli check-point, or who or which groups strapped the bomb to his little body? Are they going to investigate or attempt to bring child abuse and endangerment charges against the kids' parents for allowing him to go and attempt to kill himself in the name of Jihad?

You mock the Israeli government and Army for conducting investigations into these kinds of killings, yet you make no comment on the fact that your government doesn't even have policies or ethics for investigating the above mentioned incidents and the like. Wow. How hypocritical...

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila, your silence on the matter says so much. Thanks for clearing everything up. I know exactly how you feel. How long before you, like that nice mother in Parliament who gladly sent her 4 sons off to martyrdom and paradide, happily send your beatifully precious Yousuf off to blow himself in a cafe, or pizzaria, or on a bus, or in a hotel, or in a house?

3:31 PM  

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