Gaza Residents Share Allegations of Abuse, Claim Israeli Soldiers Used Them as Human Shields
By: Max Blumenthal
Mahmoud Abu Said could hardly speak about what happened to him when the soldiers first arrived to his neighborhood. His eyes filled with tears, the muscles in his face began to twitch, and his voice faltered. As the baby-faced, 19-year-old resident of Rafah in Southern Gaza recounted how Israeli soldiers used him as a human shield, torturing and then kidnapping him, he collapsed into a plastic chair.
“I feel so afraid,” he muttered. “It’s not normal. I feel weak and I’m not myself.”
Mahmoud was among several residents of the Gaza Strip who provided me with testimony of being used as human shields by Israeli forces during their ground invasion in July. He is also among the young men from various locations around the besieged coastal territory who told me they were kidnapped by Israeli soldiers, taken to a prison in southern Israel, physically abused and interrogated about activity by armed resistance groups operating in Gaza.
The Israeli military and its international corps of supporters have accused Hamas of exploiting residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields, hoping to deflect from the whopping toll of civilian casualties they caused. But interviews with Palestinians from Gaza’s border areas revealed the opposite to be true: Israel has repeatedly used defenseless civilians to shield themselves from potential guerrilla attacks, brutally abusing young men like Mahmoud Abu Said during their invasion of Gaza. The practice is not only a war crime thatviolates international human rights law, it was outlawed by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2005.
As we stood on the porch of the ransacked home of Mahmoud’s family, a drone buzzed incessantly overhead while squadrons of F-16s roared by. The red tile roof above us had been punctured with gaping holes from Israeli shrapnel; the interior of the house had been trashed by the soldiers who transformed it into a shooting gallery; and the house next door was reduced to a pile of rubble. But nowhere was the damage exacted by Israeli forces more apparent than in Mahmoud’s bloodshot eyes and nearly catatonic expression.
“Traumatized!” his friend exclaims. “He’s completely traumatized.”
After a drink of water, Mahmoud managed to pull himself together. He recalled what happened when the soldiers arrived on July 14 during the first stage of Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The entire Abu Said family had gathered at his spacious home, including 30 cousins. When a platoon of Israeli troops appeared in the dirt road outside the house, the terror began.
After ordering the family to evacuate the house under the shelling their army had just initiated, the soldiers called for Mahmoud’s father, Abdul Hadi El Said. As soon as he appeared at his doorstep, they shot him in the chest, leaving him to die. Miraculously, after bleeding for two hours, he managed to survive and seek medical help. The rest of the family fled west away from the oncoming troops; however, the soldiers grabbed Mahmoud and refused to allow him to leave.
Mahmoud said the Israeli troops dragged him back into his house, blindfolded him and wrapped him in a blanket on the floor as they began to blow holes in the walls to use as makeshift sniper slits — what US troops in Afghanistan called “murder holes.” Then the soldiers stripped Mahmoud to his underwear, handcuffed him, slammed him against a wall and began to beat him. With an M-16 at his back, they forced him to stand in front of open windows as they hunted his fleeing neighbors, sniping directly beside him at virtually anything that moved. When they were not using him as a human shield, Mahmoud said, the soldiers left him alone in the room with an unleashed army dog who was periodically ordered to attack him.
Posted on August 28, 2014, in NEWS and tagged abuse, allegations, as, claim, gaza, Human, human shields, isaeli soldieres, israel, israeli, news, residents, share, shields, them, used. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.