[T]he soldiers take up their positions in the place with the narrowest windows, like the shower. That is where "they put in their snipers." The assumption is: "Anything that moves on the ground, this is the end of it." Because the snipers shoot.
-- Amira Hass, "Shooting Anything That Moves in Rafah", 21 May 2004
Asma Mughayer and her younger brother Ahmed (on the left in the family photo below) were shot dead on the roof of their home by an IDF sniper last Tuesday, during the IDF's invasion of the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF insists - despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary - that the Mughayer siblings were killed by a Palestinian bomb, and that it does not target children.
(via the Sydney Morning Herald).
It is worth bearing in mind, however, that the IDF definition of what constitutes "children", is not necessarily the same as what the rest of us understand by the term:
Sniper: “They forbid us to shoot at children”.
Journalist: “How do they say this?”
Sniper: “You don’t shoot a child who is 12 or younger”.
Journalist: “That is, a child of 12 or older is allowed?”
Sniper: “Twelve and up is allowed. He’s not a child anymore, he’s already after his bar mitzvah. Something like that”.
Journalist: “Thirteen is bar mitzvah age”.
Sniper: “Twelve and up, you’re allowed to shoot. That’s what they tell us”.
Journalist: “Under international law, a child is defined as someone up to the age of 18.”
Sniper: “Up until 18 is a child?”
Journalist: “So, according to the IDF, it is 12?”
Sniper: “According to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I don’t know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”
-- Don’t shoot till you can see they’re over the age of 12: Amira Hass' interview with an IDF sharpshooter, explaining why so many Palestinian children were killed in the first weeks of the intifada, when the IDF was largely confronted by stonethrowers. Published in Ha'aretz, 20 November 2000.
Asma Mughayer was 16, Ahmed was 13. So I guess by the IDF's rules of engagement the soldiers who murdered them weren't targeting children after all. Heck, if you define the age of a child low enough, even a three-year-old can become a legitimate target. (Warning: Links to graphic image).
Update, 8:35am 26 May - Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation into the shooting of the Mughayer siblings, noting that all available evidence suggests they were not killed by an explosion (as the IDF maintains), but were shot from the top floor of a nearby house, the highest building in the area, which had been taken over by Israeli soldiers shortly before...
Recalling the inadequate investigations (or lack of investigations) into unlawful killings by the IDF of hundreds of Palestinians, including hundreds of children, in the past three and a half years, Amnesty International called upon Israel to ensure that a thorough, independent and impartial investigation is promptly carried out by judicial authorities.