The Criminal Investigations Division of the Israeli military police are opening an investigation into charges that Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields during an operation in Nablus two weeks ago.
The inquiry was launched upon the orders of IDF Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avi Mandelblit.
Palestinians residents of Nablus in the West Bank claimed that during an IDF raid in the city, soldiers illegally threatened civilians at gunpoint. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled out use of Palestinian civilians in military operations, and specifically banned taking Palestinian civilians on arrest raids.
On February 25, the Associated Press filmed a video in which a Palestinian man is shown accompanying heavily armed soldiers as they conduct house-to-house arrest sweeps.
After the operation, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem published a report in which Palestinian witnesses reported seeing soldiers use a Palestinian girl, 11, and boy, 15, as human shields.
Walking on 'tiptoe'?
According to witnesses’ testimonies, on the first day of the operation soldiers arrived at a Palestinian family’s Nablus home and instructed the family’s 15-year-old boy to accompany them on searches of three other homes.
The boy said the soldiers pushed him with their rifle barrels and forced him to enter the rooms of the homes ahead of them, to open closets and empty their contents, and open windows.
Contrary to the allegations, at the end of the operation the IDF claimed to have “walked on tip-toe” in its treatment of the city’s civilian population. According to IDF sources, the army performed a widespread military operation in Nablus but within strict constraints.
"We were asked by all ranks to do everything in order not to hurt innocent Palestinians, because it is clear that such an incident would be extremely significant, beyond the level of the division and brigade here,” a senior officer said.
The army noted that nine fugitives were arrested during the raids and multiple weapons caches and explosives laboratories were discovered. One Palestinian was killed, one IDF soldier was moderately wounded and three were lightly wounded.
News agencies contributed to the report