Author Topic: Israel’s use of Palestinian human shields exposed  (Read 58 times)

King Tech Quadafi

  • His Royal Highness
  • Muthafuckin' Don!
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 7323
  • Karma: -221
  • i think you betta recognize...
Israel’s use of Palestinian human shields exposed
« on: April 16, 2007, 10:13:28 PM »

By Emile Tayyip

Palestinians have long complained about the Israeli army’s use of human shields, but evidence was difficult to obtain. 

This week, a video clip filmed by a foreign peace activist and aired on Israel’s Yedioth Ahronot newspaper Web site, prompted the Israeli army to suspend a commander whose troops forced two Palestinian youths in the occupied West Bank of Nablus last Wednesday to stand in front of their vehicle to protect it from stones thrown by other civilians – the latest evidence that the Israeli army still uses Palestinian human shields in violation of international law and a 2005 ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court against the inhumane practice. 

The Israeli army said in a statement Friday that the soldiers who appeared in the video "apparently made prohibited use of civilians" and that the unit's commander would be suspended "from all operational activity, in addition to the ongoing investigation into the matter."   

Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said the suspension failed to address the fundamental problem. "They are treating it as an isolated incident," he said. "The problem is systematic and ... they (Israeli occupation forces) continue the practice despite the court order.”

The use of human shields highlights one of the several human rights violations committed by Israel as it enters its fifth decade of military occupation in the West Bank.  International law, including the Geneva Conventions and Hague regulations, bans placing civilians in harm's way during military operations.

The 2005 Supreme Court ruling was prompted by an outcry over the military’s use of Palestinian human shields in a 2002 offensive in the West Bank. The army defended the illegal practice at the time, claiming that it never allowed its troops to use civilians for cover during battles.

But in August 2002, a 19-year-old Palestinian student was killed in a gun battle that broke out after he was forced to knock on the door of a building where a wanted fighter was hiding.

Avichay Sharon, 25, a former Israeli commando who served from 2000 to 2003, asserts that the use of “human shields” remains common.

“When you have to decide between risking your soldiers' lives or just a Palestinian bystander, the solution ... suddenly becomes much more logical than it sounds,'' said Sharon belongs to “Breaking the Silence,'' a group of former soldiers who say army tactics in the West Bank are hurting Israel's moral character.

“Everyone has done it, seen it, witnessed it," Sharon said. 

Last February, Associated Press Television News (APTN) captured footage of a Palestinian civilian who was forced to act as a human shield and lead heavily armed Israelis on a manhunt for wanted fighters in the West Bank.

“I was afraid I would die,'' Sameh Amira said in a recent interview. “They made me go in front of them… and they fired behind my back,'' said the 24-old-year old, who says that he has no links to any resistance group.   

The APTN video prompted the army to launch a rare criminal investigation into whether its soldiers have broken the law. It also encouraged other Palestinian civilians, including an 11-year-old girl, to come forward with similar accounts of being compelled to walk ahead of soldiers looking for fighters. 

Jihan Dadoush, a Nablus resident, said Israeli occupation forces raided her home, questioned her father, and older sister then turned to her. “I was very afraid because the soldiers were screaming at me, so I told them about a house where young men sometimes go,'' the 11-year-old girl said. 

Minutes later, the soldiers returned and ordered Jihan to come with them, threatening to arrest her and ignoring her father's pleas to leave her alone.

“I was shouting, 'Where are you taking my daughter? Bring her back! Bring her back!''' her father, Nimr Dadoush, said in an interview, explaining that the girl has a heart condition. “They didn't answer me.'' 

Jihan said the troops ordered her to show them the hideout. “They made me walk in front of them. There were many soldiers behind me with their weapons and they frightened me,'' she said. 

Jessica Montell, executive director of the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, said the Israeli soldiers knowingly expose Palestinian human shields to danger, adding that complaints by Palestinian civilians rarely lead to punishments. For instance, less than 8% of military probes into physical abuse by Israeli occupation forces have led to convictions in the past six years, she said, citing army figures.

However, Montell, whose group is assisting Amira and Dadoush, said the video is “crucial'' evidence that is rarely available.

The military investigation could lead to anything from disciplinary measures to criminal indictments, Montell said, adding that she hopes the probe will determine who's responsible for the use of human shields. 

“It's hard to imagine that the individual soldiers took the initiative here. At least at some level, some commander is instructing and training soldiers," she said.
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

- Lewis Carroll