Israelis want to exhume shot girl's body

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The Independent Online

Military prosecutors are seeking to exhume the body of a 13-year-old girl who Israeli soldiers say was repeatedly shot by their company commander as she lay wounded on the ground in the southern Gaza Strip.

Military prosecutors are seeking to exhume the body of a 13-year-old girl who Israeli soldiers say was repeatedly shot by their company commander as she lay wounded on the ground in the southern Gaza Strip.

The family of the girl, Iman al-Hams, are considering whether to agree to the request. A trial is being planned for the officer who, the soldiers said, "emptied the magazine" of his automatic weapon into her body to "confirm" she was dead.

Shortly after the shooting at a military observation post in Rafah, the army admitted that it had been a mistake, and that the girl's bag, which a spokesman said soldiers had thought was a bomb she was about to plant, contained only schoolbooks. She had been on her way to class.

Leah Tzemel, the Israeli lawyer representing the girl's parents, said last night that the army had agreed to her demand to allow Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian pathologists to be present at a post-mortem examination. The findings would also be documented for assessment by an international expert. Ms Tzemel said the family was hesitating over the exhumation for "religious and sentimental" reasons but would probably give its decision over the weekend.

The incident was exposed after a group of soldiers in the company, part of the Givat brigade, approached the Israeli newspaper Yedhiot Ahronot and said the girl's body had been riddled with 20 bullets because the commander had "confirmed the killing". One soldier told the newspaper: "The company CO who sprayed the girl with bullets turned us all into vicious animals and besmirched us all. If he is not dismissed, we will not agree to serve under him."

Another said that the commander had "desecrated the body". The investigation is expected to clarify whether the initial reports suggesting the girl was already dead when she was shot again were correct.

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