IDF to Ask High Court to Review Ban on 'Human Shield' Practice

Defense Minister Mofaz says will present High Court justices with arguments in favor of practice in West Bank.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Tuesday instructed senior Israel Defense Forces officers to ask the High Court of Justice to reconsider its ruling banning the army's use of Palestinians to deliver warnings to wanted men about impending arrest operations.

Mofaz wishes to appeal against last week's High Court ruling which disallowed the use of "human shields", a procedure that the IDF called called an "early warning procedure." The Defense Minister says he will stand before the justices to present his arguments, which in his view justify continuing the use of human shields.

The human rights group Adalah petitioned the High Court last week against the practice, in response to Operation Defensive Shield. The petition was based on reports that the IDF had forced Palestinians to search houses that were thought to be booby-trapped and to enter houses where wanted men were thought to be hiding, in advance of the soldiers who sought to arrest them. Some of the reports also accused soldiers of using Palestinians as human shields against attacks on IDF forces.

In response, the IDF said that it had forbidden the use of Palestinians as human shields against attacks or as hostages, but did not rule out their use "in situations in which this aid would enable [the army] to refrain from military activity that could cause even greater damage to local residents, to soldiers and to property."

Nevertheless, the media and human rights organization continued to report on cases in which the IDF had forced Palestinians to participate in operations to arrest wanted men - a procedure that the army termed "neighbor procedure." In August 2002, therefore, the court issued an interim injunction against this practice.