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Israel military commander reprimanded in human shield case

[JURIST] Israeli military Brigadier General Yair Golan received a reprimand [press release] Thursday after an investigation [JURIST report] by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] into allegations that Golan improperly used Palestinians as human shields. Golan, commander of the West Bank army division, will not be promoted for at least the next nine months as part of his reprimand. According to an IDF statement, Golan was reprimanded for using "the 'Preliminary Warning' procedure, contrary to his orders." The IDF defined "preliminary warning" as "an operational procedure used during an arrest operation in which forces use a local resident to warn the residents of a house that an arrest is imminent. The use of the procedure is meant to enable uninvolved civilians to leave the house and allow the suspects to turn themselves in, thus minimizing the risk of injury to civilians." In a 2005 Israel Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report], the high court ruled that another procedure - the "neighbor procedure" - from which the preliminary warning procedure is derived, illegally involved the use of human shields.

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 also conducted 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. The Jerusalem Post has local coverage.

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