29 April 2003
Israeli Army Continues to Use Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields
On 27 April 2003, Adalah, on behalf of six human rights organizations and in its own name, submitted new three testimonies to the Supreme Court of Israel of Palestinian civilians being used as human shields and as hostages by the Israeli army in the 1967 Occupied Territories. This new evidence shows that the Israeli army is continuing to engage in these practices and to commit other abuses against Palestinian civilians, despite the fact that a petition on these matters is still pending, and that an injunction was issued by the Supreme Court on 18 August 2002 barring these practices. Moreover, this is not the first time that the Israeli army has violated the injunction; a motion for contempt of court was filed on 20 November 2002 and is also still pending before the Supreme Court.
The new submission was made in connection with a petition and motion for an immediate injunction filed by the human rights organizations on 5 May 2002, seeking to prohibit the Israeli army from using Palestinian civilians as human shields and as hostages. The petitioners in the case are Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), 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.
Adalah Attorney Marwan Dalal prepared the latest submission, on behalf of all of the petitioners. B'Tselem gathered the three new testimonies, which are presented in the submission:
Ms. 'Ula 'Awad, 22-years-old, is married and the mother of four children. She lives in the Nablus district. Ms. 'Awad stated in her testimony that on 6 March 2003, at about 12:30 a.m., she heard a loud explosion and went outside of her home with other family members to see what was going on. A large number of Israeli soldiers were outside. Ms. 'Awad testified that the soldiers ordered her to walk in front of them and to go up to her parents' apartment. They told her that if they found any men inside, they would shoot them and her. The soldiers then told her to go into the rooms, one after the other, and they went in after her with their rifles pointing at her back. (Ms. 'Awad's full testimony, translated from Arabic to English can be found on B'Tselem's website - www.btselem.org).
Mr. Emil Darwazeh, 40-years-old, is married and the father of three children. He works as a photographer and lives with his family in Nablus. Mr. Darwazeh stated in his testimony that on 22 February 2003, he was forced to search an apartment, before Israeli soldiers entered it. The soldiers then forced him to walk in front of them, during a room-to-room search of the building, with their guns pointed to his back.
Mr. Sami Alkarna, 28-year-old, is married and the father of five children. He is a farmer and lives with his family in the Bethlehem district. In his testimony, Mr. Alkarna stated that on 1 January 2003, he was forced by Israeli soldiers to walk in front of them and knock on doors of neighboring houses. Mr. Alkarna also testified that at the same time, the soldiers subjected him to other abuses: His head was hit on a wall by the soldiers, and one soldier put a rifle to his head and threatened to shoot him if he did not answer questions.
The Israeli army's continued use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and as hostages is a gross violation of international law. Using Palestinian civilians in any manner during military operations, as human shields or otherwise, is dangerous, humiliating and degrading, and amounts to a grave breach of the Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949) and Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (1977).
See also: Adalah News Update, "Human Rights Organizations Argue that Military "Assistance Order" Amounts to Continued Use of Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields," 3 March 2003.