Posted by: Lister | March 3, 2007

Sameh Amira

Film of Israeli Raid Raises Questions

JERUSALEM (AP) – The young Palestinian man was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt on a cold winter morning as he walked in front of heavily armed Israeli soldiers on a door-to-door sweep of three apartments in a crowded West Bank neighborhood.

The scene – caught by an Associated Press Television News camera – has raised questions about whether the Israeli army is still using Palestinian civilians during military operations, despite a Supreme Court order barring the practice.

[…] In interviews with the AP, the Palestinian man, Sameh Amira, 24, said he was awakened at about 5 a.m. by soldiers and ordered to go with his family to a neighboring home. About an hour later, he said he was forced to lead troops into three apartments, including his own. He said he was not allowed to put on warmer clothes.

[…] International law, including the Geneva Conventions and Hague regulations, prohibit placing civilians in harm’s way during military operations.

In its 2005 ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court barred the use of civilians in arrest operations, even if they volunteer to help. The court specifically banned using neighbors to knock on doors of houses with suspected militants.

So Sameh Amira shouldn’t have been part of the operation whether or not he volunteered or was forced.

Yaacov Amidror, a retired general who is a security specialist at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the use of civilians in arrest raids remains the best way to protect soldiers and innocent people.

“The procedure is the most moral and logical thing in the world,” he said. The court’s ban, he said, “seems liberal, but is in fact a bad decision for the residents of the house and for other civilians nearby.”

Addressing the issue of Amira being taken to his own home by the soldiers, Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for B’Tselem, said the issue is “danger to the civilian,” not which apartment he is sent to by soldiers, even his own.



  1. The link above doesn’t seem to work any more. Here’s MSNBC on the same topic.

  2. The B’tselem press release uses a different spelling of the Palestinian’s name: “Samah ‘Omeira”

  3. BBC report ( Oct 2005 ):

    Israel’s supreme court has banned the use of Palestinian human shields in arrest raids, saying the practice violates international law.

    The court issued a temporary injunction against the practice in 2002 after a teenager was killed when troops made him negotiate with a wanted militant.

    […] The state argued that its rules were necessary to arrest wanted militants and did not endanger Palestinian civilians who – it argued – gave their consent to take part in the operations.

    But that was disputed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Israeli Arab human rights organisation Adallah, who brought the case.

    Adallah submitted an affidavit by one Israeli reservist who said: “No civilian would refuse a ‘request’ presented to him at 0300 by a group of soldiers aiming their cocked rifles at him.”

    […] A hard-line member of the Israeli Knesset or parliament has criticised the ruling, saying it will hamper the military’s anti-terrorism capabilities.

    “Supreme court judges demonstrated today that their pity for the cruel will prove cruel to the merciful and will expose [Israeli] soldiers to more danger,” said Effie Eitam of the National Religious Party.

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