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Israel army to investigate "human shield" charges

Reuters | March 16, 2007

The Israeli army will investigate allegations its soldiers misused Palestinian civilians during an operation in the West Bank town of Nablus two weeks ago, the army said on Friday.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said in at least two incidents, Israeli soldiers forced Palestinian civilians to lead them in house-to-house searches for wanted militants. Israeli law bans the military from using human shields.

The army said in a statement it had "ordered the opening of an official Military Police investigation into the alleged misuse of civilians during an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) operation in Nablus two weeks ago".

An army spokesman would not provide further details on the investigation.

B'Tselem said in one incident, Israeli soldiers searching for gunmen ordered an 11-year-old Palestinian girl to lead them into a house. Television footage also showed Israeli soldiers apparently forcing a young Palestinian man to walk ahead of them into a house.

"Given that what we documented appears to be a clear violation of Israeli military regulations and international law, I hope the investigation will make clear who was responsible and that proper measures will be taken," said B'Tselem executive director Jessica Montell.

The Israeli army ended a five-day raid into Nablus, which it calls a militant stronghold, on March 1. During the incursion, troops shot dead a Palestinian civilian watching the raid from his rooftop. Soldiers also detained 11 suspected militants.



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