Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Tuesday demanded that the High Court review a ruling it issued last Thursday in which it declared that the 'human shield' procedure employed by the IDF when detaining Palestinian terror suspects is illegal and violates international law.
Sources at the Ministry of Defense said that Mofaz’ comments are not an attempt to subvert the Court’s decision, adding that the defense minister intends to use democratic means to revoke the ruling.
According to defense officials, the Israel Defense Forces made use of the ‘human shield’ procedure on 1,200 occasions over the last five years, and only on one occasion did a Palestinian civilian get hurt.
An 18-year-old Palestinian was killed in 2002 during one such operation.
Mofaz instructed the IDF to freeze the use of the ‘human shield’ and ‘early warning’ procedures in its arrest operations in the territories until the Court holds a new hearing on the issue.
Chief Military Prosecutor Avichai Mandelblit held talks on Tuesday with Central Command officers who told him that in overnight raids during which 20 Palestinian fugitives were arrested, IDF soldiers made no use of the ‘human shield’ or the ‘early warning’ procedures, in compliance with instructions issued by the IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz.
A senior official in the military prosecution told Ynet that the defense minister instructed the IDF to shelve the procedure in accordance with the High Court’s ruling and forbade its usage even in exceptional circumstances.
“The ruling necessitates new operational procedures, such as public announcements, yet the IDF is subordinate to the political and legal echelon; following the High Court’s ruling it was decided to freeze this procedure and that’s what has been done,” the official said.
Chief of Staff: Obey High Court
IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz was swift to instruict IDF commanders to immediately enforce the High Court’s ruling which forbids the use of Palestinian civilians to assist security operations in the Palestinian territories.
"The IDF now expects soldiers, and anyone else, who know of a breach of the rules, to report them to commanders," wrote Major General Halutz. "Every incident will be investigated and treated severely," he added.
Halutz's orders were given out despite the IDF's claim that the army has already ceased using Palestinian civilians to aid them for a long period. Despite this, the Chief of Staff sent out new instructions in light of the High Court's ruling.
Halutz's new guidelines are primarily aimed at the 'early warning' practice' which has developed in the army recently, after a ban on the use of the human shield' procedure.
Under the 'early warning procedure,' residents who reside close the home of a wanted Palestinian can "volunteer for missions" under the request of soldiers. The High Court condemned this type of practice, and the Chief of Staff has said that soldiers could not use such tactics in the future.