Israel’s top military prosecutor has opened an investigation into a platoon commander whom soldiers accuse of emptying an ammunition clip into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl to ensure she was dead.
Soldiers said the commander had approached the girl, who had already been shot and possibly killed, and repeatedly shot her as they pleaded with him to stop.
In an unusual move, the top military prosecutor, Brigadier General Avichai Mandelbleet, ordered an inquiry into the incident before the army finished its own investigation, an army spokeswoman said.
In addition, the battalion and division commanders are conducting their own investigations and will submit their findings to Army chief Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, she said.
The issue surfaced when soldiers who serve under the platoon commander – whose name was not made public – told Israeli media about the incident.
Iyman Hams, 13, was shot and killed on October 5. Initially the army said soldiers shot and killed Hams as she planted a bomb near an army outpost in southern Gaza.
But after soldiers recounted a different version of events to the media, an investigation was launched. The soldiers said they were unhappy that the platoon commander had not been suspended.
In disguised voices and without revealing their identities, the soldiers told a chilling story to Israeli television stations last night of a platoon commander who fired two bullets from close range at the girl, who had already been shot, to confirm that she was dead.
Two soldiers then described the commander going back a second time and spraying her with automatic weapons fire.
The soldiers said that before the commander shot the girl they shouted to him over the two-way radio: ”Don’t shoot. She’s a little girl.”
“We saw her from a distance of 70 metres. She was fired at … from the outpost. She fled and was wounded. I understood that she was dead. The platoon commander neared her, shot two bullets at her, returned toward the force, turned back to her, put the weapon on automatic – and emptied his entire clip,” one soldier told the media.
“He sprayed her. We were in shock. We held our heads. We couldn’t believe what he had done.
"Our hearts ached for her. Just a 13-year-old girl. How do you spray a girl from close range? He was hot for a long time to take out terrorists and shot the girl to relieve pressure,” the soldier said.
Dr Ali Musa, director of the hospital in Rafah, said Hams was hit by at least 15 bullets, most in the upper body.
Ihab Samir Hams, the girl’s brother, said his sister was on the way to school when she was shot. He said soldiers didn’t allow an ambulance into the area for 70 minutes. He said she had bullet wounds in her head, chest, legs and ”everywhere”.
Brushing off the investigation, Hams asked: “Will this bring her back to life? Will this bring her back home? Will this heal our wound? They are murderers and they killed her in cold blood.”