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“I thought it was a toy before it exploded in my hand” – Is Israel Using Rigged Toys In Gaza?


Doaa was 11 years old and on her way home from school in Gaza when she spotted a strange object on the side of the road. Curious to see what it was, she picked it up and began playing with it in front of her grandmother’s house. The happy game of a child ended with the device exploding in her right hand. She lost her leg.


Israel has been accused of rigging toys – and, chillingly, food cans – with explosives. They have form, as recounted to a UN committee looking at similar crimes by the Israeli state in southern Lebanon – now also under attack by IDF forces.


From the report 'VIOLATIONS BY ISRAEL OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE' presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child


‘The strategies and policies of the Israel Defense Force disproportionately endangered the lives and welfare of children. These strategies and policies include inter alia:


(1) massive, indiscriminate military offensives,

(2) deliberate targeting of civilian objects,

(3) the illegal use of certain types of munitions - i.e., incendiary munitions, cluster bombs, flechette shells - on civilian objects,

(4) the planting of mines, and

(5) the rigging of toys with explosives.


Throughout the course of the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, there were many reports of Lebanese children being maimed and dismembered by toys rigged with bombs or explosive devices. A Lebanese army official charged with de-mining stated that the IDF dropped rigged toys from planes during the occupation.


There appear to be two types of incidents in which civilians complain of children being injured or killed with toys rigged with explosives. In some instances, the injuries had actually been caused by toys rigged with explosives. In other instances, it appears that the children found mines or unexploded ordnance – e.g., cluster bombs – which they thought were balls.


The following are some examples of cases where children were injured by toys rigged with explosives:


· On 1 April 1997, Mariam Ali El Boustany, at the time twelve years old, went on a picnic with neighbours in the countryside in Dier Amous. She and the other children had been playing in the field:

“. . . we decided to go and pick some of the fresh green thyme since it was customary for children to gather thyme and bring it to one’s family. While we were gathering the thyme, my brother and I found a toy in the midst of a bed of thyme. We got excited that we found it, and we put it inside the bag of thyme. The toy was the shape of a jeep. Then we went back to the house. We returned to our house at 5:30. At that time, my friends asked me to go along with them to their house so we could continue the gathering. I told then that I didn’t want to because I wanted to rest a little. But inside of me I was thinking about the toy that we found and how my brother Hasan and I would play with it. I changed my clothes and I said my prayers. Then I found my brother Hasan holding the rigged toy wanting to play with it. I approached him and told him to give the toy back to me, but he did not. He did not answer me. At this point, I pulled it from his hand, but I couldn’t get it from him. I tried another time, pulling harder, holding it with more force, and I finally got it. I held it in my hand and on the side of it I noticed wire. When I pulled the wire the toy exploded between my hands. Pieces of my fingers flew away and two of my fingers were severed completely from my hand. I also was hit in my foot, and the left hand, and my chest and parts of my fingers and one finger flew and were stuck to the wall of the room”


· On 6 September 1997, nine-year-old Hussein Moussa Kheyer Eddine of Khboush El Baider was returning home from his grandfather’s house:

“. . . on the way back to our house, I was walking behind my mother and I found a toy that was in the shape of a propeller plane. My mother told me to throw it back on the ground. I told her I would, but I kept it and put it inside the bag of bread. The color of the plane was yellow and black. I hide it in the drawer so that my brothers would not find it and play with it. I kept it there until the next day. My mother was sleeping on the sofa and I was sitting beside her and I went toward the drawer and I put the toy between my legs and I started to play with it and when I pulled on the wires of the plane the airplane exploded. I did not feel pain. I ran toward the door because I was so scared and then I ran back toward my mother and I told her “Look, look what happened to me” I was covered with blood and I couldn’t believe what happened to me”


· On 12 February 1999 Joumana Ali Fahas, her husband and two sons Adam and Ahmad Moukaled went to the Toul region which is a very populated region of the south with many olive trees and frequented by family as a picnic area. The area was crowded with families that day:

“My son Ahmad found a toy in the form of a canteen tarnished with beautiful colored glass. Around him were the other children. When Ahmad pulled the wire tied to the canteen, as quick as lightning, the toy produced a strange sound, as I was later told by the other children. The other children surrounding Ahmed ran away. And quicker than lightening the toy exploded. . . . My eyes followed a child flying up in the air. What a terrible sight I saw”

 

Five-year old Ahmad was torn to pieces by the explosion and died. Ahmad’s friend, Mahmoud, suffered injuries to the head and all over his tiny body. In each of these three cases, the items were obviously designed to appear as toys, and contained wired devices that were intended to trigger the detonation of the hidden explosives.


The haunting aftermath of last summer's Israel-Hizballah conflict continues to unfold as 17-year-old Rasha Zayoun's life changed forever. A seemingly harmless metal canister, mistaken for a toy, exploded in her hands, leaving her without a leg.


It looked like a toy. Her father, Mohammed, had found it in a field near her house, and had taken it home in his bag of herbs.


Rasha picked it up and played with the ribbon, wondering what kind of toy it was. "Then I felt a tingle of electricity," she says. "I threw it from me and it exploded before it hit the floor."


The blast tore off Rasha’s left leg, wounded her mother, Alia, and her brother Qassem. The "toy" was a cluster bomblet – just one of an estimated 1 million unexploded sub-munitions scattered across the conflict zone.


The US State Department revealed a preliminary investigation suggesting Israel ‘may have violated agreements’ on the use of US-supplied cluster munitions during the Lebanon war.


"The Department takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure that US-provided weapons are used for purposes authorized under US law," said an official of the State Department.


The US Arms Export Control Act restricts the use of US-made weaponry to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defence" which Israel would clearly claim as the purpose of its current action in Gaza and Lebanon. But there are more explicit "end-use restrictions" in US-Israel contracts, according to a State Department official, although the exact wording of these is ‘classified’.


They are believed to include a condition that Israel does not endanger civilians in its use of munitions - human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes through indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas during the Gaza war and before.


Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said earlier that "Israel takes the concerns raised by the US extremely seriously" and had been as "forthcoming and transparent as possible" adding that "Israel is itself conducting an ongoing internal investigation as to the use of munitions during the Lebanon conflict"


Local sources in Gaza have reported that Israel has dropped cans disguised as food but containing explosives in the Gaza Strip – specifically in the area of the Al-Mawasi refugee camp, where forcibly displaced Palestinians have been told to go ‘for safety’ by Israel.


Quds News Network reported that Israeli jets dropped cans that have explosives inside as "bait for starving displaced Palestinians".


The network also alleged on X (formerly Twitter) that two children, one man, and one woman were killed by the fake cans.


Gazans have been facing starvation and famine since the start of the Israeli aggressive attacks amid a lack of aid entry to the strip.


The report to the UN sheds light on Israel's actions, suggesting strategies and policies employed by the Israel Defense Force disproportionately endangered the lives of children. The use of rigged toys, cluster bombs, and other explosive devices has left a trail of injuries and fatalities, raising concerns about the impact on civilian populations.


As international attention turns to the reported use of dangerous tactics in Lebanon and Gaza, questions arise about the impact on civilian populations and the potential diplomatic fallout for Israel. The alleged violations, from rigged toys to cluster bombs, underscore the complex challenges in conflict zones and the urgent need for scrutiny and accountability. The haunting case studies of injured children emphasize the devastating consequences of such tactics on innocent lives.

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