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AP: IOF Soldier suspended after forcing Palestinians to act as human shields

Cooperation between Research Journalism Initiative and the International Solidarity Movement in publicizing video footage of Israeli soldiers forcing Palestinians to be human shields leads to a rare case of action against IOF officer

IDF suspends officer over troops’ use of Palestinians as human shields
By The Associated Press 13 April 2007

The Israel Defense Forces has suspended the commander of an operation in which troops ordered two Palestinian youths in the West Bank to stand in front of their vehicle to protect it from stones thrown by locals, the army spokesman’s office said Friday.

Following the incident in which IDF soldiers apparently made prohibited use of civilians, GOC Central Command Yair Naveh ordered the suspension of the commander of the mission from all operational activity, in addition to the ongoing investigation into the matter, the IDF statement said.

Additionally, the chief military counsel has ordered a military police investigation into the incident, the statement said.

The footage was filmed by a foreign activist in the course of a raid on the home of a wanted militant in Nablus. During the operation, troops damaged the house, but the fugitive was not inside.

Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti denounced the suspension as window-dressing.

“They are treating it as an isolated incident,” he said. “The problem is
systematic and … they (troops) continued the practice despite the court order,” he said.

Human rights groups say the use of civilians in military operations has dropped sharply since the Supreme Court banned it outright in 2005, but has not ceased altogether.

The landmark Supreme Court ruling was prompted by an outcry over the army’s widespread practice, in a 2002 West Bank offensive, of forcing Palestinian civilians to approach fugitives’ hideouts.

The army, which launched the offensive following a rash of suicide bombings, defended the practice at the time, saying it kept civilians out of harm’s way and encouraged militants to surrender peacefully. And it says it never allowed troops to use civilians for cover during battles.

But in August 2002, a 19-year-old Palestinian student was killed in a gunfight that erupted after he was forced to knock on the door of a building where a fugitive was hiding.

See previous story and video HERE