Israeli media sources today reported yet another incident of the Israeli army conducting a drill simulating the takeover of a Palestinian village at the hands of a reserves unit. For the third time within a month, the Israeli army conducted a ‘takeover exercise’ at Beit Lid, a village near Tulkarem in the northern West Bank.In these exercises, Israeli troops are commanded to usurp the village, even though the villagers are not ‘considered especially hostile’ and there have been no warnings of ‘wanted’ Palestinians hiding among them. This kind of procedure is undoubtedly traumatizing and provocative for the Palestinian civilians. Were any civilians to break under the pressure and retaliate to this violation against them, it is likely that a full blown military attack would be carried out on them by the Israeli army.
Last week, the same media sources reported that several Israeli army reserve soldiers approached the human rights group Yesh Din and informed them of two exercises that were carried out by a reserve paratrooper brigade in Beit Lid, as well as the nearby village of Safarin. A complaint was filed with the Military Advocate General, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit.
Yesh Din legal adviser Michael Sfard approached Mandelblit following the first two drills and demanded an investigation into the matter. Sfrad added that the drills endanger people’s lives and cause unnecessary panic among the Palestinian residents of the area. Sfard reiterated his demand for the immediate cessation of the drills after residents of Beit Lid reported a third mock-invasion this week. An Israeli army spokesperson tried to justify the drills in the Israeli media report by saying that ‘the majority of the exercise took place in open fields and according to protocol’. Exactly what the protocol for this kind of act is has not been made clear.
On Thursday, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit ordered the military police to open an investigation into the allegations that the Israeli army used an illegal maneuver termed ‘neighbor procedure’ in the West Bank city of Nablus.
This maneuver involves the use of neighbors of ‘suspected militants’ as human shields when conducting abductions, and was outlawed by the High Court of Justice almost two years ago. However, an Associated Press television crew documented Israeli troops forcing a Palestinian man to accompany them while carrying out abduction in Nablus in February.