JERUSALEM – Israeli soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian girl as a “human shield” during an operation against militants in the West Bank town of Nablus last week, an Israeli human rights group said on Thursday.
The Israeli army said it was checking the information from the B’Tselem group, which monitors Israeli actions in the occupied territory. Israeli law bans the military from using human shields.
B’Tselem said the girl, Jihan Daadush, told its interviewers that Israeli soldiers had entered her family home and questioned her and her relatives about the whereabouts of gunmen who had fired at them during the raid.
The soldiers, she said, threatened to arrest her unless she led them to a nearby house.
“(A soldier) ordered me to go toward the house,”‘ B’Tselem quoted the girl as saying. “Three soldiers walked behind me. When we reached the house, there were a lot of soldiers. The soldiers ordered me to go inside the house and I went inside.”
B’Tselem said Jihan told them the soldiers shone flashlights and asked about the rooms of the house. There was no mention in the report of whether troops found militants inside. The girl said two soldiers then returned her home.
“(One of the soldiers) told me, ‘Thank you, but don’t tell anyone,’” the girl said, according to B’Tselem. “I was afraid they would kill me or put me in jail. I am still afraid the soldiers will invade the city again and take me away.”
B’tselem also said the army had used a 15-year-old Palestinian boy and a Palestinian man for a similar purpose during the five-day raid of Nablus, a militant stronghold.
The Israeli army ended the operation on March 1. During the incursion, troops shot dead a Palestinian civilian who had observed the raid from his rooftop. Soldiers also detained 11 suspected militants.