Israel's Military Advocate: IDF Training Inside Palestinian Villages Is Legal

After NGO files complaint against Israeli military training inside West Bank villages, IDF's Military Advocate General says legality of training is anchored in principles of 'belligerent occupation.'

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

There is no legal barrier to Israel Defense Forces training inside Palestinian villages in the West Bank, according to a document prepared by the IDF's Military Advocate General.

Maj. Harel Weinberg, the MAG's deputy prosecutor for operational affairs, wrote that the legality of training inside Palestinian villages is anchored in the principles of belligerent occupation, by which the military commander, who is the sovereign authority in the area, is obligated to maintain security and public order in the West Bank, and so must hold occasional training exercises in populated areas.

Still, Weinberg wrote that troops taking part in such training were required to avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine. The document was written in response to a complaint filed by activists of the Yesh Din NGO following a series of incidents involving IDF training in villages.

In one incident last May, troops held an exercise in the middle of the village of Amatin. In another case three months ago, during Ramadan, the army held a training exercise at Tel Rumeida in Hebron while a family there was eating breakfast in their yard. According to a report by family members, about 15 soldiers broke into their yard without permission, scattered throughout both floors of the home, and practiced breaking into a home using special equipment — all while family members were inside.

The IDF Spokesman said: "After looking into the matter, the Military Advocate General found that there was no legal obstacle to holding training in inhabited areas as part of maintaining security in the area. The orders issued for the drills that take place in populated urban areas include a statute requiring coordination with the ones doing the drill. It will also be made clear that as part of the training exercises, the soldiers must avoid putting the population at risk, damaging their property or causing unreasonable disturbance to their daily routine. Anywhere that there are deviations from these rules, the Military Advocate General will order that clarification be given and will take the appropriate measures.

IDF paratroopers holding a urban warfare exercise Credit: Alon Ron

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