Name: Dua’a A.
Date of incident: 18 February 2010
Nature of incident: Human shield
Location: Nablus, Occupied Palestinian Territory
On 18 February 2010, a 16-year-old girl from Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, is forced at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers to search for a weapon.
'It was around 3:30am,' recalls 16-year-old Dua’a, 'and I was sleeping in my house in the old city of Nablus. My family and I woke up to the sound of banging on the door.' Soldiers soon broke down the front door and stormed inside the family home. 'There were more than 30 soldiers and some of them were wearing masks over their faces.' Dua’a recalls that the soldiers started beating and kicking her younger brother, Khaled (15), whilst asking him where his older brother, Mohammad (17) kept his weapon. 'In the meantime, Mohammad was in the hall standing among the soldiers with his hands tied. He was beaten by them and asked about his weapon.' Dua’a was then asked to fetch Mohammad’s ID card from the bedroom: 'I went to the room and a soldier followed me. “Are you bringing Mohammad's weapon?” the soldier asked me and I said: “Mohammad doesn't have a weapon; I'm just going to get his ID.'
Two soldiers followed Dua’a into the bedroom. 'One of the two soldiers ordered me to stand in a corner and I did so and he pointed his weapon at me. I was shivering in fear,' says Dua’a. 'I gave the ID to one of the soldiers and one of them ordered me to sit on the bed where Mohammad had been sleeping, and I did so. They pointed their weapons at me and one of them sat beside me.' Dua’a recalls that one soldier was taking photographs with a digital camera. 'The soldier sitting beside me stood up and ordered me to lift the mattress to see what was underneath. He was speaking in broken Arabic: “You lift the mattress, and we step away.” I did what he said and I was quivering because I was very scared. They moved three metres backwards towards the door while aiming their weapons at me. They also ordered me to search the closets and other items in the room while they were aiming their weapons at me.'
Dua’s father saw what happened which he describes in an affidavit as follows: 'They focused their search on the place where Mohammad was sleeping. They ordered Dua'a to lift the mattress but she couldn't because it is heavy. At that moment they moved about two metres away from her and pointed their weapons at her. “I can't lift it, you want me to tear it apart?” she asked them, and they ordered her to leave it. She was scared and kept crying and shivering the whole time. I saw the whole thing because the door of the room where I was is directly opposite.'
Following the search, the soldiers started to take Mohammad with them. 'My father asked the soldiers to bring Mohammad to him before they took him away,' recalls Dua’a. 'My father is diabetic and has had both legs amputated, so he can't walk. The soldiers shouted at him and at first refused to bring Mohammad, but about 15 minutes later they brought Mohammad who was allowed to say goodbye to my parents and siblings. After that, the soldiers took Mohammad outside the house in his pajamas. They refused to allow him to change his clothes. They wanted to take him barefoot but my mother begged them to let him wear his shoes.'
On 20 September 2010, DCI-Palestine and Adalah lodged a complaint with the Israeli authorities concerning the treatment of Dua’a and her family. On 19 October 2010, the Israeli army informed the organisations that the Military Police are investigating the case.
The use of civilians as human shields is prohibited under both Israeli and international law.