A group of Israeli soldiers serving in the Gaza Strip have reportedly admitted killing a 15-year-old Palestinian in Khan Yunus for sport. According to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth, the incident took place in March when a group of newly graduated soldiers were on a hike near the town of Khan Yunus.
According to the report, an undisclosed number of Givati brigade soldiers shot and killed Khalid Sulaiman Mahdi while he was working with his father on their farm. The boy’s father, Sulaiman Mahdi, told the paper the killing was “just for the sake of it”.
“Seven bullets pierced my son’s head, so you can’t talk here about a mistake or random gunfire. This was an act of direct and clear sharp shooting,” he said. “The area is wide open and contains nothing special. The only thing unusual was the shooting at us, which killed my son.”
The father, Khalid, and two other sons were working in the family’s field when the shooting occurred. According to soldiers interviewed by Yediot Ahronoth, there were no operational purposes for the shooting and no justification, since the boy and his family posed no threat to the soldiers.
An Israeli army spokesman said the army had investigated the incident, but admitted that no arrests were made. The spokesman refused to say why the soldiers concerned were not arrested or prosecuted. Sulaiman Mahdi, who leads a simple farmer’s life, said he did not plan to sue the Israeli army for his son’s murder.
“I only hope the Israeli army takes care such a thing doesn’t occur again. There are lots of children here who work with their parents and I hope Khalid will be the last casualty.”
According to human rights groups operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation army has killed hundreds of Palestinian minors, often without justification, in the course of its incursions into Palestinian population centres. The killing of innocent Palestinians by the Israeli army during the past four years has reached a worryingly frequent level, say the rights groups.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt that it is a rampant phenomenon,” says Basim Eid, a former field researcher for the Israeli human-rights group, BTselem and head of the East Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. ”The Israeli army is no longer an army that abides by military ethics.”
In an interview with Aljazeera.net, Eid accused the Israeli army of “inspiring soldiers to commit these abominable acts of sheer murder”.
“The army top brass has given every indication that soldiers who commit murder will be immune from serious prosecution, and even if they are prosecuted, it won’t be a big deal.” Eid said investigations carried out by the army were only for show, and to appease international public opinion. “I don’t think they carry out genuine investigations in these killings,” he said.
“They only put up a show and usually after the press and human-rights groups have exposed a given crime.” Last month, BTselem accused the Israeli army of covering up crimes against innocent Palestinians. The army rejects the charges.
Khalid Amayreh is a journalist based in the occupied West Bank. This article was originally published by aljazeera.net and reprinted on EI with permission.