Israeli Soldier: Gazans were used as human shields to check militants' homes

Israeli Soldier: Gazans were used as human shields to check militants' homes
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The Israeli army used Palestinians as human shields during Operation Cast Lead last January despite a 2005 Israeli High Court ruling outlawing the practice, a Golani brigade soldier says, according to WAFA.

The Israeli daily Haaretz quoted the Soldiers as saying he did not see Palestinians being used as human shields but was told by his commanders that this occurred.

The soldier says his unit employed a variation of the practice, the so-called 'neighbor procedure,' when it checked homes for Palestinian militants.

The soldier's testimony appears in a collection of accounts being published this week by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects Israeli soldiers' testimony on human rights abuses by the military. The Golani soldier gave similar testimony in a meeting with a Haaretz reporter.

The soldier's allegations relate to Israeli army conduct during fighting in the eastern part of Gaza City. The soldier, a staff sergeant, says that in his unit and others, Palestinians were often sent into houses to determine if there was anyone inside.

'The practice was not to call it 'the neighbor procedure.' Instead it was called 'Johnny,'' the soldier said, using Israeli slang for Palestinian civilians. The Israeli army employed this practice extensively during the 2000 intifada, before it was outlawed by the High Court in 2005.

At every home, the soldier said, if there were armed occupants, the house was besieged, with the goal of getting the militants out of the building alive. The soldier said he was present at several such operations.

In an incident his commanders told him about, three armed militants were in a house. Attack helicopters were brought in. 'They ... again sent the [Palestinian] neighbor in. At first he said that nothing had happened [to the armed men],' the soldier said. 'Again they brought in attack helicopters and fired. They again sent in the neighbor. He said there were two dead and one still alive. They then brought in a bulldozer and began to knock the house down on him until [the neighbor] entered.' The soldier said he had been told that the only militant remaining alive was captured and turned over to the Shin Bet security service.


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