Amid Court Ban, Ezra Says Use Relatives as 'Human Shields'

Haaretz Service
Moshe Reinfeld, Ha'
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Haaretz Service
Moshe Reinfeld, Ha'

Amid a High Court restraining order against the IDF's use of neighbors of suspected terrorists as "human shields" to lure the suspects out of their hide-outs, Likud Deputy Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said Monday that the army should instead use family members for the purpose.

Ezra, a former senior Shin Bet official, was responsing to a Sunday High Court ruling that granted a coalition of human rights groups a restraining order against the IDF's use of the "neighbor practice." The practice is used by soldiers who order the neighbor of a wanted Palestinian suspect to go to the suspect's house to ask him to give himself up, thus exposing the neighbor, not soldiers, to the risk the wanted man might open fire.

The one-week restraining order prevents the army from using the practice until the High Court rules on a previous petition, which asked the court to ban the use of Palestinian civilians as "human shields."

"For the benefit of the Arabs and of our soldiers, this initial confrontation, this meeting between the soldiers and the candidate for arrest should go as smoothly as possible," Ezra told Army Radio. "The best, for this purpose, is to use a member of the family."

The rights groups claim, via attorney Marwan Dalal, that on August 14, Ahmed Abu Mohsan, 19, was killed after IDF soldiers forced him to walk ahead of them and knock on the door of his neighbor in the West Bank village of Tubas, during an Israeli operation in the village.

In response to the petition, which was filed three months ago, the IDF told the court, via the attorney general, that it would issue an order banning the use of human shields. That said, the IDF claims that the 'neighbor practice' is not the same as using human shields. According to IDF sources, each field commander has the discretion whether to use the practice or not.

In his petition for a temporary restraining order, Dalal insisted that there is no difference between human shields and the 'neighbor practice.' According to Dalal, the practice is forced in the 'collaborator.' This is an infringement of the Geneva Convention, which grants a civilian living in occupied territory freedom from coercion. Dalal stressed that the IDF is not entitled to force a civilian to carry out military missions that may endanger his or her life.

The petition also includes several quotes from Ha'aretz, which show that several IDF field commanders believe that the 'neighbor practice' is an efficient operative tactic. According to attorney Dalal, this proves that, in the eyes of these IDF commanders, the value of a Palestinian life is virtually nothing, and that the judgment of these commanders' cannot, therefore, be trusted.



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