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Military Advocate Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit has ordered military police to open an investigation Monday into charges that a company commander "confirmed the kill" of a 13-year-old girl from Rafah, who was hit by IDF fire last week.

The term is military slang referring to the firing at close range of combatants after they have already been shot to the ground, ostensibly to assure that they present no further danger, but effectively to make sure they are dead.

The practice is considered contrary to formal IDF regulations governing rules of engagement.

Colonel Avi Peled, commander of the IDF's regional brigade in the southern Gaza strip, will conduct the investigation into the circumstances of the death of 13-year-old Iman Alhamas, who was shot by soldiers from the Givati Brigade near the IDF Girit outpost near Tel el-Sultan in western Rafah.

Over the last few days suspicions have intensified over the company commander's actions after the girl was shot. The army's explanation of the incident was that the soldiers who fired believed the girl to be a terrorist, and that her school bag contained explosives. The bag was later discovered to have held only schoolbooks.

The Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Moshe Ayalon claimed in Sunday's cabinet meeting that Palestinian militants had sent the child toward the outpost to draw out the soldiers so that Palestinians snipers could fire at them, and that intelligence reports had forewarned of actions of this nature. The army also said the child aroused suspicion because she had strayed far away from the route to school and several hundred meters away from the nearest houses.

In the meantime the investigation took a dramatic turn when company soldiers told the mass daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the company commander, who had participated in the shooting from afar, came close to the girl's body, "emptied his magazine" at her, and "confirmed the kill" by shooting at her head.

As a result of the publication, the army expanded its inquiry in this direction. During the initial inquiry the commander confirmed having shot the girl but, based on what he said, it was unclear at what range. Several soldiers corroborated their friends' report that the shooting was done at close range. Others said the fire came from three different positions.

The army says that if the charges against the company commander are found to be true, he will be subject to disciplinary measures. Simultaneously, an investigation by military police is under consideration. The army investigation will presented to the Chief of Staff upon completion.

This is the second scandal in the Shaked battalion of the Givati Brigade in two weeks. Last week Haaretz reported that GOC southern Command Major General Dan Harel recommended dismissing another company commander in the battalion, following the investigation of an incident where militants infiltrated an outpost at the end of September, killing an officer and two soldiers. Harel made his recommendation in light of "faulty norms" prevailing in the battalion, that the investigation revealed. The recommendation awaits the Chief of Staff's approval.

Ihab Alhamas, the older brother of Iman, spoke with Haaretz yesterday: "Anyone who knows even a small bit about the rules governing Palestinian society knows that there is a complete social taboo against the use of girls for military purposes. It is all excuses to disguise the IDF's blind hatred toward Palestinians. They have no pity for the elderly, and I am sure, now that they have killed my sister, that they have no pity for children".

Al-Hamas rejected the IDF's claims that the girl was exploited by armed militants who wanted to fire at the Israeli soldiers. "We know that this area, where the outpost called Tel Zuarub by Palestinians is located, is off-limits, but no-one can control kids all the time. These are all unfounded lies. Iman got up, had breakfast with five of her nine brothers, and took leave of her parents as she does every day on the way to school. Even if someone used the child, and I am certain it did not happen, she presented no danger to anyone, and shouldn't have been shot at. More than 20 bullets were found in her body, and her head was severed from the heavy fire. Is this how Israelis want to display their bravery to the world?"