Court: Soldiers at Girit violated rules of engagement

Human rights group petitions on behalf of family of Iman al-Hams, 13, who was shot in October 2004.

high court 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
high court 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The High Court of Justice earlier this week published the full text of its recent decision ordering the Judge Advocate General to investigate whether soldiers serving in a sector of the Philadelphi Corridor were given rules of engagement that contradicted IDF open-fire orders. The High Court decision came in response to a petition by The Public Committee against Torture in Israel and the parents of 13-year-old Iman el-Hams, who was shot and killed by soldiers manning the Girit army outpost on October 5, 2004. They petitioned the court to order an investigation of soldiers other than the commander of the outpost, Capt. "R," who has since been acquitted by a military court of all charges. The petitioners also demanded that an independent committee investigate whether the soldiers at Girit operated according to secret rules of engagement that differed from the official ones issued by the army. According to the petition, there had been rumors of a "death zone" that IDF officers had declared around the military outposts strung along the Philadelphi Corridor. According to the rumors, soldiers had been instructed to shoot to kill anyone who entered these areas without warning and without trying to determine whether the intruder was dangerous. Justice Edmond Levy, who wrote the decision, said the official rules of engagement instructed soldiers to be cautious and exercise self-restraint day and night before opening fire in what they termed "special security zones," such as the area around Girit where the girl was shot. However, during testimony in the trial of Capt. R, soldiers from Girit told the court they had been instructed to shoot to kill at night in the no-go area around the outpost without asking questions. This, Levy pointed out, contradicted the official rules of engagement. The question was whether somewhere along the chain of command, leading down to the soldiers in the field, someone had passed down different orders, allowing the soldiers to shoot to kill at night in the area around the outpost. If this was true for the nighttime, Levy said, who could say it wasn't true for the daytime. Hams was killed at 7 a.m.