Good news : Israel : Supreme Court stands up for humanity


Richard Moore


Israel bans use of human shields 

Israel's supreme court has banned the use of Palestinian human
shields in arrest raids, saying the practice violates
international law.

The court issued a temporary injunction against the practice
in 2002 after a teenager was killed when troops made him
negotiate with a wanted militant.

Human rights groups who brought the case say the Israeli army
has repeatedly violated the temporary ban.

The army cannot use civilians for its purposes, Israel's chief
justice said.

"You cannot exploit the civilian population for the army's
military needs, and you cannot force them to collaborate with
the army," Aharon Barak said.

Early warning

The court ruled out both the placing of civilians in front of
soldiers on operations and as well as an "early warning"
procedure employed by the army.

In this practice the army forces local Palestinians to flush
out wanted militants by making them approach their homes first
and asking them to surrender.

No civilian would refuse a 'request' presented to him at 0300
by a group of soldiers aiming their cocked rifles at him

Soldier's affidavit

The state argued that its rules were necessary to arrest
wanted militants and did not endanger Palestinian civilians
who - it argued - gave their consent to take part in the

But that was disputed by the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel and the Israeli Arab human rights organisation Adallah,
who brought the case.

Adallah submitted an affidavit by one Israeli reservist who
said: "No civilian would refuse a 'request' presented to him
at 0300 by a group of soldiers aiming their cocked rifles at

"It's an important decision, but we need to see if the
military will abide by it," said Adallah lawyer Marwan Dallal.

'Pity for the cruel'

The judges decided that under the circumstances it was
impossible to properly get the consent of Palestinians.

"In light of the inequality which exists between the
apprehending force and the local resident, the civilian cannot
be expected to resist the request to pass on an alert," Mr
Barak wrote.

A hard-line member of the Israeli Knesset or parliament has
criticised the ruling, saying it will hamper the military's
anti-terrorism capabilities.

"Supreme court judges demonstrated today that their pity for
the cruel will prove cruel to the merciful and will expose
[Israeli] soldiers to more danger," said Effie Eitam of the
National Religious Party.

Story from BBC NEWS: 

Published: 2005/10/06 10:17:35 GMT 


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