20 November 2002
Adalah Files Motion for Contempt of Court: Israeli Army Still Using Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields
Today, Adalah, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, B'Tselem, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a motion for contempt of court to the Supreme Court against the Israeli army and the government in connection with the army's continued use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. The motion, filed by Adalah Staff Attorney Marwan Dalal, asks the Supreme Court to levy fines against the respondents, as an injunction issued by the Court on 18 August 2002, prohibits the army from continuing to use this practice.
The motion is based on a report released by B'Tselem on 14 November 2002, entitled "Human Shield: Use of Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields in Violation of High Court Order." In its report, B'Tselem provides evidence of at least five separate instances in which the Israeli army has used Palestinian civilians as human shields since the Supreme Court issued an injunction in August. In the most recent incident, on 9 November 2002 at 4:00 a.m., Israeli soldiers removed 39-year-old Khaled Kamil, a father of three children from Jenin, from his home. Mr. Kamil was ordered to enter his neighbor's partially destroyed house and call out to him. The soldiers beat Mr. Kamil and threatened him with arrest and the destruction of his own home if he did not comply with their orders. (The full text of B'Tselem's report is available on their web site at www.btselem.org).
In the motion, the seven Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations argued that the Israeli government and army are forcing Palestinian civilians to participate in military operations, in violation of international law, and in violation of the their rights to life, dignity and freedom.
The motion was filed in connection with a petition submitted by Adalah Staff Attorney Marwan Dalal in the name of the seven human rights organizations in May 2002. The petitioners named as respondents Yitzhak Eitan, Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank; Shaul Mofaz, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Defense; and Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel. The petitioners' argued that the army's practice of using Palestinian civilians as human shields is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention (IV), and thus constitutes a war crime. In August 2002, the seven human rights organizations filed a motion for injunction in the case, following the death of Ahmad Abu Mohsen, 19, who was killed while being used as a human shield in the course of a military operation in Tubas, West Bank. The original petition is still pending before the Supreme Court, and there has been no response by the state to the motion for injunction.
See Adalah Press Release, "Supreme Court Grants Injunction Preventing Israeli Army from Using Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields," 18 August 2002 (www.adalah.org).