Mofaz petitions for hearing on `“human shields ban`, court rejects

February 28, 2006 3:37 AM IMEMC & Agencies Israel, Israeli Politics, News Report 0

Justice Eliezer Rivlin of the Israeli Supreme Court denied, on Monday, a request by Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, to hold another hearing over the use of human shields by Israel soldiers in the Palestinian territories.Mofaz is attempting to get the High Court to reconsider its previous decision which banned the army from using Palestinian civilians as human shields during the military operations in the occupied territories.

Rivlin wrote in his decision that using civilians as human shields that the army should protect the life and dignity of human beings.

"Placing this resident, who is caught in the middle of a battlefield, before a choice – whether or not to acquiesce to the army’s request to pass a warning to a wanted gunman – is placing him before an impossible choice. The choice itself is immoral and harms the dignity of man", Rivlin added.

Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Palestinian civilians as human shields which caused several deaths and injuries among the residents who were forced into this illegal practice.

Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that the State Prosecutor’s office appealed to the High Court on behalf of Mofaz and Israel Army Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, requesting the court hold another hearing before an extended panel of justices. The court rejected the state’s request.

The Israeli defense establishment repeatedly claimed that the illegal practice did not cause any fatalities among the civilians who were used as human shields.

Israeli DM wants court to allow using Palestinians as Human Shields
George Rishmawi-IMEMC & Agencies – Wednesday, 12 October 2005
 
Under the pretext that no Palestinian was killed when used as a human shield, the Israeli Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz will try to convince the Israeli High Court of Justice to change its ruling, reached recently, which prohibits the Israeli army to use Palestinian civilians as Human Shields during military operation, Israeli sources reported on Wednesday.

Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has decided last week not to appeal to the court concerning this ruling.

However, Mofaz asked some Army officials to appeal to the court in bid to change the ruling, so the army can resume the Human Shields policy.

The army had frequently used Palestinian civilians as human shields, especially when troops attempt to arrest a claimed wanted Palestinian.  The tactic often used is to send a neighbor to the house, the soldiers believe a wanted man resides, and ask him to knock the door.  The goal is to get the target out of his house and enable the unit to jump on him and arrest him.

In other cases, while invading an area where they believe armed resistance men are there, troops would force hand cuffed Palestinians to walk in front of them knowing that resistance men would not shoot at them if they know there is a Palestinian in the front.

In another case, Israeli soldiers hand-cuffed a young Palestinian boy, on the front of their military jeep, and drove him through the town.

The motion to prevent the army to use Palestinians as human shield was initiated by Attorney Marwan Dallal, who represented several Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations.

Dallal said, he is not worried about the plan to appeal to the court, saying that "we will win this round as well."

"The army has a problem of credibility with the court," said Dallal, "the army claimed earlier that using Palestinians as human shields is to protect the civilians, however, the army acknowledged that the main goal of this policy is to protect the soldiers."

Israeli Supreme Court bans using Pals as Human Shields        
Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – Thursday, 06 October 2005
 
Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that it is illegal for the Israeli army to use Palestinian civilians as “human shields”.

Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, issued his ruling in response to petitions filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah, in its name and on behalf of , ACRI, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, B’Tselem, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked, and other human rights organizations.   

Adalah filed the petition in May 2002 against the Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank; the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army; the Minister of Defense; and the Prime Minister.

The organization argued that the practices of the army are direct violation to the International Law.

The petitioners argued that the army’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and/or as hostages is inhumane treatment and violates the right to life, physical integrity, and dignity.

The petitioners also argued that this practice constitutes a “grave breach” of the Geneva Convention (IV) and thus, amounts to a war crime

“The army cannot utilize the civilians for the army’s military needs”, Justice Barak said, “It also can’t force them to collaborate”.

“Based on this principle, we ruled its illegal to use the civilians as human shields”, the ruling reads, “It is also illegal to use civilians to pass military warnings to the residents the army wants to arrest”.

Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Palestinian civilians as human shields in their operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the civilians were forced to approach homes and hideouts of wanted residents, several residents were caught in crossfire between the resistance and the army, and were wounded or killed.

After the petitions were filed in 2002, the court issued a temporary injunction against using Palestinians as human shields.

The army, responding to the injunction, claimed that the procedure used is an “early warning” practice, claiming that soldiers used Palestinian civilians as shields after they “had explicitly agreed to collaborate”, and if the activity did not endanger their lives.

Justice Barak slammed that so called “early warning” procedure, quoting the Geneva Protocol which prohibits the occupying army from using civilians against their own will.

Also, Barak called on the military to stop its current procedure saying that the civilians, out of fear from the soldiers, will not refuse to cooperate with the army, and added that “It is uncommon that there is ever really free will; ninety-nine out of 100 times, it’s not free will”.

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