The Methodical Shooting of Boys at Work in Gaza by Snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International – Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010.  Some of the facts have been published in national newspapers.  These barbarous acts contravene international and national law but there are no judicial responses.  The caring professions see the physical and mental pain of those who suffer and they should be in the vanguard in calling for this great cruelty to cease forthwith.  Political leaders have failed to act.  The Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which is of central importance in holding war criminals to account in the jurisdiction of the UK, is being emasculated.


Most of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza strip is impoverished.  Half are refugees from Mandate Palestine or their children.  About 50% of the male population is without work.  It has been isolated and occupied for decades.  A commercial port was being built in 2000 but that was bombed by Israel.  The isolation and the hobbling of its commerce was increased by a siege which was started in March 2006 in response to the election of a majority of Hamas members to the legislature.  It was further tightened in June 2007 after the Hamas government pre-empted a coup by the Fatah faction that was led in Gaza by Mohammad Dahlan.

The misery was further deepened with Operation Cast Lead that was unleashed 27/12/08.  This was promised 29/02/08.  “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” said Matan Vilnai  Deputy Defence Minister to Israeli Army Radio.  There was a massive bombardment which killed 220 adults and children in the first 15 minutes.  This was followed by a full scale invasion.  1400 humans were killed and approximately 5000 injured physically.  The minds of very many more were injured too.  4000 homes were totally destroyed, almost all the factories and 40 mosques.  The two gleaming science blocks of the Islamic University  of Gaza were flattened by very powerful thermobaric bombs, the blasts being heard throughout the 360 square kilometres of the Gaza Strip.

The siege has been even more draconian since.  Cement, ballast and steel rods are only let in at about 5% of the rate needed for rebuilding, the pretext being that ‘bunkers’ could be constructed.  At the present rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza.  Chocolate, writing paper and all manner of things have been blocked.  The 1000 tunnels at Rafah have provided a way in for goods but in the face of bombing and roof falls.

The lack of any work and the extreme poverty of the large extended families has drawn the boys and men to scavenge for broken concrete (‘gravel’) in the evacuated Eli Sinai ‘settlement’ and in the industrial zone by the Erez border control post at the northern limit of the Strip.  The factories of the industrial zone have been progressively demolished by Israeli shelling, etc.  They are seen to the west as one enters Gaza through Erez.  A donkey and cart, shovel, pick, sieve, muscles and courage are the tools.  The rubble is used to make cement blocks and poured concrete with the cement that is imported largely through the tunnels.  Many dozens of men and boys do this work for precious shekels in the shadow of manned watch towers and under ‘drones’ above.

The 23 boys who have been shot between 26/03/10 (Said H) and 23/12/10 (Hatem S) are listed in the table below with skeletal facts.  These points are made:-

  • In 18 there were single shots and not automatic fire;
  • The reported range in most cases confirms that the weapon was a sniper’s rifle in the hands of a sniper;
  • Almost always there were many dozens of other men and boys at work; these victims were picked off;
  • A leg was the target in most cases.  Where the leg was not the target it is likely the sniper was ‘aiming up’ so the flank, elbow etc was hit instead;
  • No weapons were being borne by the gravel workers so they posed no threat to the Israeli Occupation Force personnel.  Instead they were bending their backs to their menial work within their internment camp;
  • The histories refer often to the recovery of the injured boy by friends and relatives under fire. This was a feature during ‘Cast Lead’ or instead the paramedics were barred from getting to the victims so they died without care.

The history of the injury and sequel for each boy are linked to in (1).  It has been done meticulously and the translation into English is perfect.  The pain, and often the terror, felt by the boy as the bullet struck home are vividly recorded.  No bullets have been recovered yet so the calibre/type is unknown.

  • How many boys will regain full, or nearly full function is difficult to judge without the radiographs being present.  Cases 3, 4, 5, 7, 13 and 15 are likely to have joint involvement and thus some lifelong disability.
  • In cases 1 and 3 there is nerve injury.  If that proves to be an axonotmesis in either, it is possible that a first class repair will not be available in Gaza.
  • The fractures are open by definition and no doubt comminuted.  Delayed or non-union is possible.  Deep infection is a real risk, antibiotic therapy not withstanding.  The risk of deep infection relates to (a)  the possible inclusion of fabric; (b) the high energy injury causing irregular and wide devitalisation of the tissues; (c) the probability that these difficult bullet wounds were not laid open and a complete wound toilet performed.  One or two of these boys might end with an amputation.
  • Almost all the boys have been frightened off or forbidden from gravel work.  There are few, if any, other means of earning shekels.

The shooting to wound and kill Palestinians is relentless.  DCI-P notes that according to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea. At least 27 of these civilians were children.  It also notes that the targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of circumstances.

These quotations from the available stories convey a little of the poverty, the suffering and the courage:-

  • ‘The three of us would wake up every day at around 5:30am and leave to collect gravel. We were not the only ones doing this type of work.  Hundreds of youngsters aged between 13 and 22 used to work with us, despite the danger we faced because we were close to the Israeli border.’ Awad W- 3
  • The work was exhausting and dangerous. ‘Israeli soldiers would sometimes shoot at us, and sometimes shoot in the air to intimidate us,’ recalls Ibrahim .  ‘Sometimes they would       shoot at the carts, horses and donkeys we used to move the gravel. But we had to do the work despite the dangers, because we didn’t have any other job to do.’  Ibrahim K- 4
  • Mohammad was taught by his neighbours to watch for birds flying away from the watch towers, as this was a sign to start running, as it meant soldiers were climbing into the towers and the shooting would soon begin.  Mohammad M – 6
  • They killed our three horses and one donkey in four months, and we had to spend the money we earned on replacing them.’ ….. ‘They were down on their stomachs pointing their rifles towards us, but they didn’t shoot. We got used to such things.’  Mohammad S – 11

Silence is complicity.

• I thank Gerard Horton and DCI-P for the availability and excellence of this information, and for supporting publication in a medical forum. I also thank Dr Khamis Elessi in Gaza for information.

This paper was submitted to the Lancet and the British Medical Journal 4 January 2011 under the title ‘Ethical’. The refusal from the latter is here:


The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

by David Sydney Halpin

Dear Mr. Halpin

Thank you for sending us your paper. We read it with interest but I regret to say that we have decided not to publish it in the BMJ.

Clearly soldiers shooting at children is awful, but we didn’t think your article gave a clear reason why we should be publishing it now. The information comes from the Defence for Children International (palestine section) website, there isn’t much context, there’s no description of the Israeli soldiers’ explanation for these events, and the article just sort of ends.

We receive over 8000 submissions a year and accept less than 10%. We do therefore have to make hard decisions on just how interesting an article will be to our general clinical readers, how much it adds, and how much practical value it will be.

I am sorry to disappoint you on this occasion.

An editor at the British Medical Journal


See Table: The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

David Halpin is a retired British orthopaedic surgeon who went to Gaza in February 2003 with food and supplies on a ship he chartered and afterwards set up a charity, Dove & Dolphin. He has been to Gaza ten times since 2003. He can be reached at: Read other articles by David, or visit David's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 22nd, 2011 at 9:58am #

    but, then, god being ‘jewish’, we can expect worse yet to come. it depends, on u.s. how bad it cld get for ‘uncivilized’ people of gaza.

    it also depends to what degree some ‘jews’ make and execute u.s. foreign policy.

    so far no document had surfaced to prove that one or two or more ‘jews’ have signed a bill, law, or policy that allows-commands israel [or u.s.] to do crimes that it does.
    even wikileaks as of yet do not reveal that there is document signed by ‘jews’ and which countermanded any congressional, judiciary, or w.h. order or command.

    it seems inconceivable that a ‘jewish’ order-command does not exist; especially in view of how much had been revealed by now! be it as it may… get organized!

  2. hayate said on January 22nd, 2011 at 9:15pm #

    What can one say of a country that trains snipers to murder children.

    What can one say of a people and their society and supporters who overwhelmingly support these despicable crimes?

  3. mary said on January 23rd, 2011 at 1:53am #

    There are no words Hayate.

    The Zionists’ herald, the BBC, is reporting that the Israeli verdict on the attack on the Turkish flotilla ‘will broadly exonerate the actions of the Israeli navy’. Well of course it will.

    David my brother sent this letter to Tony Blair last night with copies to his MP and to Hague, the Foreign Secretary.

    Dear Mr Blair,

    I know that you are deeply involved in the ‘peace’ process as the Envoy of the Quartet. I also know you speak with vigour about the supposed threat posed by Islam. In fact you again encouraged war on Iran when you were excusing your genocidal war on Iraq at the Chilcot Conversation this last Friday.

    You will not know that 50 miles to the south west of your office in the American Colony hotel, snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force have been shooting boys in the legs as they scratch a few shekels by collecting and sifting concrete rubble.

    I ask you to read this on one of the many web sites carrying the story I have put together from the excellent records made by Defence for Children International – Palestine. I submitted the paper to the British Medical Journal first but you will know how inhibited is the elite in things Israeli.


    Many questions arise. One might be – did even the Third Reich stoop to this? Did the Nuremberg Rules ever exist? Is not the planned emasculation of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 to suit Livni et al a most evil thing? Is not the Judaeo-Christian alliance of much greater danger to the people of this world? Look no further than Iraq and Afghanistan.

    For truth, reason and justice

    David Halpin FRCS

  4. hayate said on January 23rd, 2011 at 12:19pm #

    “will broadly exonerate the actions of the Israeli navy”

    So the nazi leadership exonerates the ss…

  5. jayn0t said on January 23rd, 2011 at 3:09pm #

    Mary – re. the deliberate maiming and murder of children by the IDF and the report on the Israeli navy – “Is not the Judaeo-Christian alliance of much greater danger to the people of this world?”. A better strategy might be to argue the differences between Judaism and Christianity, especially in the USA. There are a number of Christian denominations which the left wouldn’t touch with a bargepole because of their views on social issues. I recently went to a talk by one of these conservative Christian ministers, and he hinted that Tel Aviv is more of a threat to the average American than Baghdad or Tehran. What settles it is the hysterical reaction of the Jewish left to this argument. They call us ‘Judeophobes” and try to get us fired, issue threats, etc.. Christianity, libertarianism and US patriotism are not intrinsically antithetical to Palestinians, Afghans, Iraqis, etc..

  6. mary said on January 23rd, 2011 at 11:59pm #

    Fine writing from Mohammed Omer here. He has observed the physical and psychological effects of war and deprivation on the children of Gaza.

    For Gaza’s Children, the Trauma never ends

  7. hayate said on January 24th, 2011 at 3:54am #

    Soon, a new fictional Turkish film will be out about the Mavi Marmara war crime and one man who seeks revenge. Trailer:

    Valley Of The Wolves Palestine (with English Subtitles)

  8. hayate said on January 24th, 2011 at 4:48am #

    Israel: The Ugly Truth
    Israel offers the Western world a reflection of itself.

    by Mya Guarnieri

    Global Research, January 23, 2011
    Al Jazeera


    “There was that jarring week in December – a protest against Arab-Jewish couples, a south Tel Aviv march and demonstration against migrant workers and African asylum seekers, the arrest of Jewish teenagers accused of beating Palestinians and the expulsion of five Arab men from their home in south Tel Aviv. It left me with the question: What is next?

    It is impossible to predict the future. But there are signs that violence, perpetrated by citizens, could be spreading.

    In mid-January, dozens of young Jews attacked Muslims at a mosque in Yafo or Jaffa, the historically Arab city just south of Tel Aviv. An Israeli media outlet reports that the youth, who were armed with stones and Israeli flags, shouted “Mohammed is a pig” and “Death to Arabs” just as the Muslims were preparing to pray.

    When the police arrived, they did not arrest any of the assailants.

    And just a few days before that march in south Tel Aviv, seven Sudanese men were attacked in Ashdod, a coastal city in the south of Israel.

    According to Israeli media reports, someone threw a flaming tyre into the apartment the men shared. Five suffered from smoke inhalation, two were hospitalised.

    Another alarming act of violence took place in south Tel Aviv that same night. The Hotline for Migrant Workers, an Israeli NGO, reports that three teenage girls – Israeli-born, Hebrew-speaking daughters of African migrant workers – were beaten by a group of Jewish teenagers. The attackers, one of whom was armed with a knife, allegedly called them “dirty niggers”. One of the girls needed medical treatment for her injuries.

    “It’s worth noting that the girls had already experienced such violence in the neighbourhood,” Poriya Gal, the spokeswoman for the Hotline for Migrant Workers, says. “But they chose not to report it to the police out of the fear that they would be attacked again.”

    Another frightening indicator of the mood here: In south Tel Aviv, on the day of the protest, a number of afterschool programmes closed early so that children could get home safely before the demonstration began. Administrators were worried that the children might otherwise get caught up in the march and attacked by protestors.

    Because asylum seekers are often reluctant to ask for help – and they are unlikely to turn to the police – it is hard to determine the precise number of racially motivated attacks.

    But the African Refugee Development Committee (ARDC) reports that asylum seekers are increasingly being evicted from their homes, despite the fact that they have paid rent. And the committee has been alerted to another alarming trend. Dara Levy-Bernstein of the ARDC says: “There have been a lot of [asylum seekers] complaining about being stopped by police or soldiers – we’re not entirely sure which – but they’re people in uniform who have been taking their visas and tearing them up.”

    Some argue that asylum seekers and Palestinians represent distinct issues that are distinctly complicated. In some ways, they do. But the police or soldiers who tear asylum seekers’ visas are the same people who fail to arrest Jewish citizens for throwing stones at Muslim worshippers. And it boils down to something very simple: How Israel, and some of its citizens, views those it considers ‘others’.”


  9. mary said on January 24th, 2011 at 9:55am #

    The cruel and inhumane Occupiers know no law.

    Israel threatens to disconnect Gaza’s infrastructure [ 74235 ] –
    Ma’an news

    January 24, 2011

    GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie he was considering disconnecting the Gaza Strip from Israel’s electricity and water supplies.

    The plan was originally proposed by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the summer of 2010. He suggested that the European Union help build a power plant, water desalination plant and sewage treatment facility in the Gaza Strip to make it self-sufficient.

    Ma’an asked officials in Gaza what impact this would have on the coastal enclave.

    Munthir Shublaq, director of the water supply network for the coastal cities, said Israel has already drastically reduced water supplies to the Gaza Strip. Israel provides 5 million cubic meters of water per year, while the average consumption is 180 million cubic meters. He added that recently, Israel further reduced the water supply to 3.2 million cubic meters annually.

    Shublaq said this has left Gaza residents dependent on groundwater, which has become increasingly contaminated. At present, 95 percent is undrinkable, he said.

    The excessive use of the supply forced sea water to move inland, raising the groundwater’s chloride concentration to 1000 milligrams per liter. The recommended concentration is less than 250 milligrams per liter, he added.

    If Israel stopped supplying the Gaza Strip with water, Shublaq said, that would create serious problems in certain areas in the coastal enclave which depended on water from Israel. Water desalination plants must be urgently established, he said.

    Meanwhile, if Israel disconnects the coastal enclave from its electricity grid, “Gaza will be destroyed,” said Kan’an Ubeid, chief of the Strip’s sole power station.

    Without a connection to Israel’s power grid, Gaza residents would only have electricity once or twice a week. Around 60 percent of Gaza’s electricity supply comes from Israel and there is currently no alternative to the situation, Ubeid explained.

    He was consulting Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah to look into other possibilities, he added.

    “Egypt is still hesitating to include the Gaza Strip in the regional electricity project despite the fact that funding and land for the project is ready.”

    Political analyst Ibrahim Abrash said Israeli threats to disconnect Gaza’s infrastructure were political, and a continuation of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Strip. He said former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon began the process aiming to destroy the Palestinian national project.

    However alternative supplies could be found, Abrash said, possibly in Egypt.

    “Egypt is supplying Israel with electricity, so is it possible Egypt will refuse to do that for Gaza?”


  10. mary said on January 24th, 2011 at 9:56am #

    PS Israel bombed the previously existing facilities.