UN report: 'IDF used Gaza boy as human shield'

UN human rights experts say 11-year-old ordered to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in Tel al-Hawa.

IDf arrest Hamas Gaza 248/88 ap (photo credit: )
IDf arrest Hamas Gaza 248/88 ap
(photo credit: )
IDF soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza, a group of UN human rights experts said Monday. The army ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict. Radhika Coomaraswamy said the incident on Jan. 15, after IDF tanks had rolled into the neighborhood, was a violation of Israeli and international law. It was included in a 43-page report published Monday, and was just one of many verified human rights atrocities during the three-week war between Israel and Hamas that ended Jan. 18, she said. Coomaraswamy accused IDF soldiers of shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier. Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva said it would respond to the allegations later Monday at a session of the UN Human Rights Council. There also have been allegations that Hamas used human shields, but UN human rights experts have yet to verify those, said Coomaraswamy. "Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," said Coomaraswamy. Coomaraswamy, who visited Gaza and Israel for five days in February, said her list constituted "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by UN officials who were in the territory. She was the only one of the nine UN experts who compiled the report that was allowed into Gaza following the war. The experts covered issues ranging from health and hunger to women's rights and arbitrary executions. The experts also noted reports that Hamas had committed other abuses. They said Hamas had been unwilling to investigate the allegations. The report called for Israel to investigate human rights abuses that occurred during the conflict.