Friday, March 16, 2007

Israel army to investigate "human shield" charges

Israeli soldiers patrol the streets of the West Bank city of Nablus during an army raid March 1, 2007. REUTERS/Loay Abu Haykel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli army will investigate allegations its soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields 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 civilians to lead them in house-to-house searches for wanted militants. Israeli law bans the military from using human shields.

The Israeli military 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 Defence 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.

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.

Source: The Scotsman

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