The Israeli army used three Palestinians in Hebron as human shield to break into the house of a Palestinian claimed to be wanted by Israel, Israeli sources reported on Sunday.

This practice defies the Israeli high court of justice which ruled that using civilians as human shields is illegal.

An army force broke into Mahmoud Rajabi’s home in the Jabel Johar neighborhood in eastern Hebron at about 4 A.M. last Wednesday and forced three of his sons to serve as human shields.

Fifteen soldiers, armed with rifles, machine guns, took over the fourth-floor apartment.  The apartment is home to 16 members of the Rajabi family, at least half of them minors. Rajabi and his wife, their children and his son Nabil and his children, live in the house.

Soldiers ordered most of the family members to leave but kept hold of three of Rajabi’s sons, Nabil, 30, Raja’i 19 and Najah, 13 in the apartment.

The three were used as human shields during the soldiers’ stay, against their will.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted the spokesperson of the army as saying that the three were not held against their will, and claimed that they were told that they can leave whenever they want.

 

However, the commander of the unit said it was normal procedure intended ‘to protect his soldiers’ lives.’

The commander said that he and the troops were using the family members ‘to prevent stone throwing and bomb hurling at the soldiers in the house.’

Nabil Rajabi said, ‘The soldiers entered the building without showing any order or telling us why they were breaking in. They ordered the others to leave and told us to stay with them. We had to be with them all the time.’

The soldiers left the family’s home after their operation ended before dawn on Friday.

Israeli military establishment has said in the past that it obeys the court ruling and denied that such means are still in use.

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