Use of Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields by the Israeli Army

HCJ 3799/02, Adalah et al v. Yitzhak Eitan, Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank, et al

Adalah's Petition | State Demands Re-hearing | News Updates | Related Legal Documents

In 5/02 Adalah filed a petition on behalf of LAW, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, B'Tselem, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and HaMoked, against the Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, the Minister of Defense, and the Prime Minister.

For more information, see Adalah's  Special Report on Israel's use of Human Shields

The petitioners argued that the Israeli military's practice of using Palestinian civilians as human shields and hostages throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory constitutes inhumane treatment and violates the rights to life, to physical integrity, and to dignity. The petitioners further argued that this practice is a "grave breach" of the Geneva Convention (IV) – 1949, and thus amounts to a war crime. At the petitioners’ request, the Court issued an injunction in 08/02 prohibiting the use of civilians in IDF military operations. In 11/02, Adalah submitted to the Court a motion of contempt again the respondents providing evidence to demonstrate that the Israeli army violated the Court's injunction.

In 1/03, the Court narrowed the injunction to allow the use of "Operation Order – Prior Warning" where, if the commander determines that the situation does not pose a risk to the civilians, a Palestinian civilian gives his or her consent to assist the IDF during a military operation. In 4/04, Adalah submitted a motion for an injunction to prohibit the use of the "prior warning order." In 8/04, Adalah submitted to the Court an additional motion of contempt against the respondents, citing substantial evidence of violations by the Israeli army of the Court's injunction barring the use of "human shields." In 9/04, Adalah again challenged the use of the "prior warning order" before the Supreme Court, emphasizing it still amounted to the use of civilians during military operations. The Court did not issue an injunction, instead ordering the military to report back within 90 days on the implementation of the order in the field.

Result: On 6 October 2005, the Supreme Court accepted Adalah's original petition and declared illegal the IDF's practice of using civilians as human shields, including the "Operational Order – Prior Warning." The Court determined that this procedure is in breach of international law as "assistance" still amounts to the involving of civilians in military operations.


H.C. 3799/02, Adalah et al v. Yitzhak Eitan, Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank, et al

Update: In 11/05, the Attorney General submitted a motion to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Minister of Defense and the Israeli army requesting a second hearing before an expanded panel of the Court, arguing that the precedent-setting decision is legally flawed. The Court gave the original petitioners 60 days to respond to the state's request. In 2/06, Adalah responded to petition, arguing that the Court should dismiss the petitioners' request for a second hearing on the grounds that the Court's original ruling was in accordance with domestic and international legal principles and jurisprudence and that the Israeli army has consistently violated and continues to violate the Court's injunctions and rulings prohibiting the use of Palestinian civilians in military operations.

In 2/06, the Supreme Court rejected the Attorney General's petition requesting a second hearing.

H.C. 10739/05 Minister of Defense et. al. v. Adalah


Update: In 2007, Adalah has asked the AG and the Chief Military Advocate General to open investigations into various recent instances in which the Israeli army has used Palestinian civilians as human shields. Adalah is continuing to monitor all allegations of the state using Palestinians as human shields.


News Updates:

18 April 2002: Adalah submits pre-petition
6 May 2002: Adalah and six other human rights groups petition the Supreme Court
8 May 2002: State responds to petition
18 August 2002: Supreme Court grants temporary injunction against the 'neighbor procedure'
20 November 2002: Adalah and others submit motion for contempt of court
25 December 2002: Petitioners submit additional information on continued use of human shields
29 January 2003: Supreme Court backtracks, allows the use of civilians as human shields, if they consent
3 March 2003: Petitioners submit arguments against new 'assistance order'
29 April 2003: Petitioners submit three new testimonies of Israeli army using human shields
8 July 2003: Supreme Court hearing in conjunction with the case
3 May 2004: Petitioners demand issuance of immediate injunction on using human shields
7 September 2004: Supreme Court holds hearing on the petition and related motions
24 October 2005: Supreme Court bans use of Palestinians as human shields
20 November 2005: Israeli officials request second hearing on the case
13 February 2006: Adalah submits response to state petition
8 March 2006: Supreme Court rejects state motion for a second hearing
28 October 2007: Adalah demands Israeli army publish directives against human shield use


Related Documents:

Adalah's May 2002 petition against the use of human shields

The Petition (English, Hebrew)
The State's Response (English: 1, 2)
The Supreme Court Decision (English, Hebrew)

The State's November 2005 petition for a re-hearing of the case

The Supreme Court Decision (Hebrew)

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