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Text testimonies Killed kids by mistake
catalog number: 64556
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Paratroopers
Area: Nablus area
period: 2002
1,215  views    0  comments
Killed kids by mistake
Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Paratroopers
Area: Nablus area
period: 2002

… We were in Balata [refugee camp]. The lookouts have permission to fire. There’s a ‘straw widow’ (temporary commandeering of a house) and the lookouts on the roof identify a person standing on the roof with a cell phone and report it. Shooting at the legs, there’s permission to shoot a guy standing on a roof with a cell phone, it’s enough that the lookouts see him talking twice on the cell phone and looking down, it looks a bit suspicious, you get on the two-way radio with an officer to get permission to shoot at his legs. Sometimes you miss the legs and hit the belly, not on purpose. In the city, it happened that children were killed when someone tried to shoot at their legs and hit the back, the belly. If we go into the city in a vehicular patrol or something, in Abir vehicles, and stones are thrown at us and all that, then you won’t get permission. But if you see a kid throwing an explosive at you, you’re allowed to shoot him in the legs.

He throws it at the vehicle?Yes.

Is the vehicle armored?Very armored. We were shot at, they threw everything at us, and nothing happened. But in the case of explosives, you can shoot at the legs with permission from a captain.

From the officer in the field?No, no. From the commander in the vehicle. It’s usually permission from the company commander. The one who will shoot if I'm on my way to an arrest or in a ‘disturbance procedure’ (purposeful disturbance of the peace by the army).

What is a ‘disturbance procedure’?It's when you have a specific alert that there's going to be a transfer of weapons inside the town, inside Balata… If someone wants to go out, so we draw the attention to us, we just drive around a lot, make a commotion inside the town, throw a lot of stun grenades, lots of gas, just to give the impression that there's a large force, and to make them scared to go out. The idea is to make them come out to us and cause riots. As soon as there’s a riot, you’re authorized to shoot at the legs of kids who throw explosives, and if I happen to shoot – and I’m just a rifleman – and I aim at the knee...

Can any combatant shoot?Yes, from his personal weapon. If the commander, if an explosive is thrown, a deputy company commander can authorize that. And if by mistake I hit him in the back or kill him, and that happened to us… two-three times just in the last service term.

Soldiers killed kids.Killed kids by mistake. Aimed at the legs, shot them in the back and killed them.

How do you know afterwards if they killed them?Reports from the DCO (District Coordination Office), the Palestinians report, there is cooperation in that sense. So kids get killed.

Is there a trial? Any serious inquiry about this thing?No. I’m sure it doesn't go beyond the battalion commander. I don't know about people undergoing an inquiry. I can't say for sure… But I didn't see people undergoing an inquiry and I know nothing was done with it later either… Someone comes to the alert squad and says: “Let's go guys, there's a ‘disturbance procedure’”. “Why, what happened?” “There's an attempt to transfer weapons in Balata”. What do we do? We go around Balata and we can use the crowd dispersal equipment, two stun grenades…

Is there any restriction on using this equipment?There’s no restriction on anything. You can have four stun grenades on you. We have a box of equipment inside the vehicle and you can use as much as you want. How many rounds of gas does the launcher shoot? As many as he wants. No restrictions.

In every vehicle there's one commander… He says where to shoot…No. He sits with the driver up front, we sit in the back. “Listen, there are some kids here, I’m throwing at them.” “Sure, chief to 2A, stun grenades ok.” “Check, roger”. You throw stun grenades, gas. No authorization, no nothing. “I’m throwing gas.” And it gets to a point where people are acting like little kids: “Let me throw gas, let me throw gas”.

Do you say anything about it?Yes. I’m pretty much in a minority in the company. In a platoon of nine people, we were three against behaving like dumb kids every time you enter the city and throw stun grenades like…

What do you mean by “dumb kids”?It's when they throw stones at you when you're in an armored vehicle, you know nothing will happen to you, so there's no need to throw stun grenades at them, making them deaf for a month.

The orders are to throw stun grenades at them?There aren't any defined orders. If there are defined orders, then nobody knows them. Using crowd dispersal equipment – no one ever told us anything about it. Inside the city, inside Nablus.

Inside Nablus, you go in – you can do whatever you want? With rubber [-coated metal bullets]?Rubber, yes.

Anything.Yes, anything. Maybe you have to report on the two-way radio about shooting rubber. I never heard anyone say “no”. No matter what. Four soldiers in the back, the commander up front, he has no idea what's going on.

Can you tell him, “I saw something – I'm gonna shoot”?As long as it's not live bullets – anything.

Did your company shoot rubber, too?Yes, sure.

At what?I personally never shot rubber, but if we were really getting taken apart, and I see that they're standing on the roofs and throwing refrigerators and almost breaking the vehicle, we shoot rubber or shoot in the air.

Where do you aim rubber bullets?At the lower part of the body.

And do you hit?I don't know. I never saw it hit, this thing. I didn't shoot it. But in the beginning, in the first service term we had, when we were part of the battalion, sitting inside the city, in Nablus, it was …

When was that?October 2002. Two years into the riots. Something like 4-5 months after operation Defensive Shield. We would seize an abandoned house in order to prevent villagers from entering… That was one of the missions.