April 25, 2011
Now most would agree that the practice of using human shields is morally wrong, unless of coarse you are immoral, but the logical question here is -- is it legal?
The Israeli High Court ruled against the use of human shields in 2005. The court ruling stated specifically that, "The use of human shields was in violation of international law." The ruling was unfortunately a delayed decision based on Israeli military forces using Palestinian civilians as human shields which was widely practiced during the five year Palestinian uprising that led up to the court ruling.
The "neighboring procedure" as it was called, is well documented. The tactical use of innocent civilians was almost limitless. Israeli soldiers would make civilians brandish weapons to deter fire from Israeli troops to cover troop movements and various urban assaults on Palestinian forces. Other procedures included forcing civilians into potentially booby trapped houses to prevent military casualties as well as forcing Palestinian ambulance drivers to drive in front of Israeli soldiers to provide a mechanized civilian shield.
Judge Aharon Barak, president of the High Court, stated specifically in the ruling: "You cannot exploit the civilian population for the army's military needs, and you cannot force them to collaborate with the army."
In 2002 a coalition of human rights groups, including Israeli and Palestinian organizations, petitioned in opposition to the Israeli Military's use of the neighboring procedure. The petition was filed in response to widespread reports from civilians and Israeli military forces themselves.
As result, The High Court initially ruled an injunction against the policy despite the tireless efforts of human rights groups whom continued to document numerous cases of the use of human shields. The injunction was eventually modified in 2003 to allow the use of "prior warning" situations which were deemed acceptable if Palestinian civilians "volunteered" to help Israeli Defense Forces.
"It is hard to judge when a Palestinians consent was given freely and when it was the fruit of overt or covert pressure," Judge Aharon Barak stated in his written decision. Indeed.
A key provision of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates legal protections for civilians living under military occupation.
So what is the verdict here Israeli soldier? Guilty. It is Illegal under Israeli and international law to use civilians for human shields or for any military action that would otherwise put them in harms way and violate their human rights.
Original posting (Uncle CEO a.k.a yours truly)
New York Times -- Gaza Strip