Snipers ordered to shoot children, Israeli general confirms
An Israeli general has confirmed that when snipers stationed along Israel’s boundary with Gaza shoot at children, they are doing so deliberately, under clear and specific orders.

In a radio interview, Brigadier-General (Reserve) Zvika Fogel describes how a sniper identifies the “small body” of a child and is given authorization to shoot.

Fogel’s statements could be used as evidence of intent if Israeli leaders are ever tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

On Friday, an Israeli sniper shot dead 14-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Ayyoub.

The boy, shot in the head east of Jabaliya, was the fourth child among the more than 30 Palestinians killed during the Great March of Return rallies that began in Gaza on 30 March.

More than 1,600 other Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition that has caused what doctors are calling “horrific injuries” likely to leave many of them with permanent disabilities.

As eyewitnesses and video confirmed, the child Muhammad Ayyoub posed no conceivable danger to heavily armed Israeli occupation forces stationed dozens of meters away behind fences and earthen fortifications on the other side of the Gaza boundary when he was killed.

Even the usually timid United Nations peace process envoy Nickolay Mladenov publicly declared that the slaying was “outrageous.”

Targeting children

On Saturday, Brigadier-General Fogel was interviewed by Ron Nesiel on the Israeli public radio network Kan.

Fogel is the former chief of staff of the Israeli army’s “southern command,” which includes the occupied Gaza Strip.

Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian lawmaker in Israel’s parliament, drew attention to the interview in a tweet.

recording of the interview is online (it begins at 6:52). The interview was translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra and a full transcript follows this article.

The host Ron Nesiel asks Fogel if the Israeli army should “rethink its use of snipers,” and suggests that someone giving orders “lowered the bar for using live fire.”

Fogel adamantly defends the policy, stating: “At the tactical level, any person who gets close to the fence, anyone who could be a future threat to the border of the State of Israel and its residents, should bear a price for that violation.”

He adds: “If this child or anyone else gets close to the fence in order to hide an explosive device or check if there are any dead zones there or to cut the fence so someone could infiltrate the territory of the State of Israel to kill us …”

“Then his punishment is death?” Nesiel interjects.

“His punishment is death,” the general responds. “As far as I’m concerned then yes, if you can only shoot him to stop him, in the leg or arm – great. But if it’s more than that then, yes, you want to check with me whose blood is thicker, ours or theirs.”

Fogel then describes the careful process by which targets – including children – are identified and shot:

“I know how these orders are given. I know how a sniper does the shooting. I know how many authorizations he needs before he receives an authorization to open fire. It is not the whim of one or the other sniper who identifies the small body of a child now and decides he’ll shoot. Someone marks the target for him very well and tells him exactly why one has to shoot and what the threat is from that individual. And to my great sorrow, sometimes when you shoot at a small body and you intended to hit his arm or shoulder, it goes even higher.”

For “it goes even higher,” Fogel uses a Hebrew idiom also meaning “it costs even more.”

In this chilling statement, in which a general talks about snipers targeting the “small body of a child,” Fogel makes crystal clear that this policy is premeditated and deliberate.

While presenting unarmed Palestinian children as dangerous terrorists worthy of death, Fogel describes the snipers killing them in cold blood as the innocent, vulnerable parties who deserve protection.

“We have soldiers there, our children, who were sent out and receive very accurate instructions about whom to shoot to protect us. Let’s back them up,” he says.

Lethal policy

Fogel’s statements are no aberration but represent Israeli policy.

“Israeli officials made it clear that the open-fire regulations would permit lethal fire at anyone attempting to damage the fence, and even at any person coming within 300 meters of it,” the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem stated in a recent analysis of Israel’s illegal targeting of unarmed civilians who pose no threat.

“Nevertheless, all state and military officials have steadfastly refused to cancel the unlawful orders and continue to issue – and justify – them,” B’Tselem added.

B’Tselem has called on individual soldiers to defy such illegal orders.

Following its investigation of the “calculated” killings of unarmed demonstrators on 30 March, the first day of the Great March of Return rallies in Gaza, Human Rights Watch concluded that the lethal crackdown was “planned at [the] highest levels of the Israeli government.”

Two weeks ago, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued an unprecedented warning that Israeli leaders may face trial for the killings of unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

Potential defendants would be giving any prosecutor a gift with such open admissions that killing unarmed people in an occupied territory who pose no objective threat is their policy and intent.

The question remains whether anything will finally pierce the shield of impunity that Israel has enjoyed for 70 years.

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