This may be a first. A senior IDF commander has been censured for approving the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields to protect Israeli soldiers from attack by Palestinian militants:
Israel Defense Forces Brigadier-General Yair Golan was censured on Thursday for allowing soldiers to use Palestinian civilians as “human shields” during military operations in the West Bank [see video].
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi decided to reprimand Golan – who formerly served as commander of forces in the West Bank – following a probe by the IDF’s criminal investigation division into the army’s use of human shields during raids in the town of Nablus.
Golan was the most senior officer to be questioned in the probe, which the army launched last March after IDF soldiers were filmed forcing a young Palestinian man at gunpoint to lead them from house to house during an arrest sweep in Nablus.
The army said in a statement that Golan would be passed over for promotion for at least the next nine months.
Of course, you know that after nine months he will receive that big promotion he was angling for since the only problem the IDF has with using human shields is when it’s caught doing it (not the tactic itself).
The reason why the IDF must look as if it disapproves of human shields is that the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that they were illegal. For some reason, despite the ruling the IDF essentially ignored it. Several TV camera crews have caught IDF soldiers in flagrante (see second video) over the past few months and perhaps this has raised a yellow flag among the senior staff.
The first video above was captured by the AP (see accompanying story) and reveals Sameh Amira, forced at gunpoint to take Israeli soldiers to apartment doors in Nablus they wished to search:
Sameh Amira was fast asleep when he was jolted awake by pounding at the front door. Israeli troops were on a manhunt for wanted militants in the West Bank and decided to draft help.
The terror-stricken 24-year-old Palestinian soon found himself forced onto the front lines of Israel’s shadowy war against militants, a human shield as he led heavily armed soldiers from house to house. “I was afraid I would die,” he said in a recent interview.
The second video appeared originally in Ynetnews and shows a July, 2007 incident also in Nablus in which soldiers forced two Palestinians to stand in front of their jeep to prevent it from being stoned by Palestinian rock throwers. The unit’s commander was suspended pending an investigation.
Despite my cynicism, I welcome the fact that IDF senior commanders can no longer behave with impunity regarding this despicable tactic. Not that I don’t wish to protect IDF soldiers from such attacks. But the best way to do this is a negotiated settlement of the conflict–NOW.