Doctors for Human Rights salutes the decision by Israel’s High Court to ban the use of ‘human shields’ by the Israeli army. There have been numerous reports of this practice in the Occupied Territories.
Known as ‘neighborhood procedure’ or ‘prior warning procedure’ it had been claimed that Palestinian civilians volunteered to walk in front of Israeli soldiers patrolling towns or camps. This claim was rejected by the Court’s Chief Justice Aharon Barak, who is reported to have said, "It is uncommon that there is ever really free will ... Ninety-nine out of 100 times, it's not free will. It is very difficult to confirm will, and I am concerned that when an army unit comes at night, no one will refuse to collaborate, out of fear."
Speaking in London today, DHR’s Chair, Dr. Peter Hall said, “Article 51 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits an Occupying Power from compelling protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted. Israel’s High Court has got the position entirely right. The practice violated international law, and I am pleased to learn that Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz ordered the army to implement immediately the High Court decision outlawing the use of Palestinian ‘human shields’ in arrest raids on the day the ruling was handed down - October 6th.