An inquiry conducted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed that there has been a huge rise in the number of houses destroyed by the Israeli army in the process of arrest raids in the West Bank.

In early October 2005, the High Court justices accepted a petition against the "neighbor procedure.", issued by Human Rights organizations. This tactic, sometimes called the use of "human shields", which has been employed hundreds of times in the territories during the first Intifada and before, involves forcing the Palestinian neighbors of wanted resistance fighters to enter their homes in an effort to convince them to surrender, and consequently, also bring out information for the army on the conditions inside the home.


Palestinians were thus forced to act as "agents" for the army, while being placed directly in the front line of fire, as "human shields" for the solldiers. There have been cases in which Palestinians were shot and killed by a  barricaded neighbor during the application of the "neighbor procedure." This use of Palestinian civilians by the Army drew intense public criticism,

Army sources say that the ban diminishes the tactical options of the officers. "The result is that very quickly we escalate in means, in other words, we use the bulldozers," one officer said.

The army maintains that it was forced by the ban to adopt new arrest methods, which do not endanger soldiers’ lives, said a senior IDF officer serving in the West Bank because "they take no chances. Not one of us will send a soldier to check a home in which it is known that a living, armed fugitive is barricaded, before we have carried out very aggressive action."

An even more dangerous procedure has been put into place because of the Army’s decision to use more aggressive means, according to Human Rights groups. It is the  cause of a greater risk to the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as more extensive damage to Palestinian homes in the territories. The end result of this decision is the very opposite of the original intention of the ban which was to lessen the dangers to Palestinians.

The High Court also banned a subsequent more complicated version of the "neighbor procedure," called "early warning procedure," in which the neighbor could not be forced to enter the house in question unless it was done with his consent, and similarly the neighbor could not be forced to wear an army bullet-proof vest and helmet.

The current tactic is called "outstretched arm." This allows the army to use an interlocutor, someone who normally lives in the house, and only if they are still in the house at the time the soldiers arrive. In most cases the fugitives allow the civilians inside to exit the house, and in that case the army can ask a family member to use a bullhorn to call out to the fugitive to surrender, so long as this is done at a safe distance.