updated 11/22/2004 9:26:18 AM ET 2004-11-22T14:26:18

Military prosecutors have issued a five-count indictment against an Israeli officer who comrades say repeatedly shot a wounded 13-year old Palestinian girl to make sure that she was dead, a military spokeswoman said Monday.

The spokeswoman said the officer was charged with two counts of illegally using his weapon, and one count each of obstruction of justice, conduct unbecoming an officer and improper use of authority. The officer, who has been suspended, was not identified.

Israeli soldiers fired at the girl, Iyman Hams, as she approached a military observation post near the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 5. The soldiers said they thought she was planting a bomb. The girl’s family said she was on her way to school when she was shot.

Soldiers from the unit later told Israeli media that the officer walked up to the girl after she was hit and riddled her bleeding body with a burst of automatic fire in an outlawed practice known as “verifying the kill.”

It is not known whether the girl was already dead when he shot her.

Palestinian hospital officials said the girl was shot at least 15 times, mostly in the upper body.

Rare investigation
In four years of Israeli-Palestinian violence, hundreds of Palestinian children and teens have been killed by army fire, often in clashes between stone throwers and Israeli troops. The army rarely launches investigations into the incidents.

Israeli soldiers have become increasingly wary of Palestinian teenagers and women, after several carried out suicide bombings or transported explosives. The Rafah camp is a frequent flashpoint of fighting between soldiers and Palestinian militants.

The accused officer initially said he came under fire from Palestinian gunmen at least 300 yards away as he approached the girl’s body and shot at the ground to deter the fire, a military official said. A soldier in an observation tower said the officer’s fire was aimed at the girl’s body, the official said.

The official could not explain why the officer shot into the ground rather than at the source of the fire.

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