Israeli court bars army use of Palestinians

October 07, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli military tactic of using Palestinian civilians to approach suspected militants during arrest raids in the West Bank is illegal, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

A coalition of human rights groups challenged the procedure, under which Palestinian residents were summoned either to knock on a suspect's door and urge him to surrender or to clear bystanders from a targeted house before soldiers moved in.

Critics charged that Israeli soldiers were in effect using the Palestinian civilians as human shields, but the army said its aim was to prevent bloodshed on both sides during arrest operations.

That practice was, under the military's rules, to be used only when the resident agreed and was deemed by the on-site military commander to be safe from possible harm.

But Chief Justice Aharon Barak wrote that the tactic is illegal because "it is practically difficult to estimate when [a civilian's] consent was freely given."

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