[JURIST] The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] are investigating allegations that an army commander used Palestinians as human shields in the latest and highest-reaching probe into the banned practice, according to Israeli media reports Wednesday. Accused officer Brig. Gen. Yair Golan, commander of the West Bank army division and a potential candidate for military secretary under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website; BBC profile], is suspected of explicitly authorizing violations of a 2005 Israel Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] prohibiting the use of human shields. Israeli rights watch group B'Tselem [advocacy website] applauded the probe as a sign that the IDF is serious about reform.
Since the 2005 ruling, human rights groups have reported a decline in the once-common use of human shields, though many believe the practice is still employed. In April, video footage [JURIST report] taken in the West Bank showed IDF soldiers ordering two Palestinian teens to stand in front of their vehicle to protect it from stones being thrown by local bystanders during a military raid. The IDF is also conducting a criminal probe [JURIST report] into an another human shield incident similarly caught on tape in February. Human shields are a violation of Article 51(7) of the 1977 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions [text] and other international agreements. AP has more.