Muhammad R, 17, was used as a human shield by Israeli border police during clashes with protesters in the West Bank town of Abu Dis. (Photo courtesy of Huthifa Jamous)
Ramallah, April 20, 2013—Defence for Children International Palestine is disturbed by Israeli border police using a Palestinian teenager as a human shield during confrontations with protesters in the West Bank town of Abu Dis on Friday.
British journalist Kate Arno caught Israeli border police on video as they grabbed Muhammad R, 17, out of their armored vehicle onto the street and forced him to stand with them while they fired at protesters. His hands remained tied with a single plastic cord and held above his head throughout the incident. One of the policemen can be seen flashing the V-for-victory sign. The clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces erupted during a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, according to news report.
“We’re outraged that Israeli soldiers continue to use Palestinian children as human shields with impunity,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine. “The teen in this case was deliberately exposed to danger after he had been taken into custody. Israeli authorities must conduct a prompt, transparent and impartial investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.”
Israeli border police spokesman Shai Hachimi told Agence France-Presse that the police officer in charge only wanted to show the youth was unharmed during his arrest. He denied that the teenager was used as a human shield.
While transferring Muhammad to the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank for interrogation, the border policemen allegedly roughed him up. His father told DCI-Palestine that he caught up with his son at the police station and saw him at a distance. Muhammad was struggling to stand on his right leg and his face was bruised, the father said. After questioning, Muhammad was taken to Ofer prison in the West Bank, according to his lawyer, Shadi Zaatreh.
Muhammad has enlarged tonsils and adenoids that restrict his breathing, according to his father. He requires medication to sleep at night and uses an inhaler throughout the day.
In February, DCI-Palestine documented a case where Israeli soldiers forced a 9-year-old Palestinian boy at gunpoint to walk among them while they confronted Palestinian demonstrators near Ofer prison outside Ramallah.
Since 2004, DCI-Palestine has documented 21 cases of Palestinian children used as human shields by Israeli forces, 20 of which occurred after the 2005 decision by the Israeli High Court of Justice prohibiting the practice under Israeli domestic law.
The use of human shields is prohibited by international humanitarian law, and involves the forced presence of civilians to shield an area or soldiers from harm or forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original text of this alert was modified to correct that it was British journalist Kate Arno who filmed the incident. Additionally, Israeli border policemen were misidentified as soldiers. Comment by border police spokesman Shai Hachimi was added in paragraph four.