The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on 6 October 2005 that the Israeli Army must stop its long-standing practice of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Thank goodness Israel is a democracy under the rule of law, so that stuff like that can't happen any more...
Today in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, via the Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency:
Ma'an - Israeli troops invaded the Saf area of the West Bank city of Bethlehem early on Friday morning. Over a dozen military jeeps surrounded a building near the girls' school in the area. Armed Palestinians exchanged fire with the Israeli soldiers on and off throughout the morning, resulting in at least six serious Palestinian injuries. One of the injured, an 80-year old woman, is currently undergoing surgery.
Around midday, after partly bulldozing the house of Saher Hassan, an active member of Islamic Jihad, whom the Israeli army appear to be targeting, the Israeli soldiers began forcing their way in using a 'human shield'. The Palestinian man, possibly a family member of Saher Hassan, is being forced to enter the building ahead of the Israeli soldiers and carry in their military equipment.
Eyewitnesses say that the equipment appears to be a large black box, with a cord stretching back to the Israeli forces outside. This suggests a form of remotely-controlled detonator or gun.
Israeli soldiers using a Palestinian man as a human shield to plant an automatic shooting machine in a besieged house, in contravention with the Fourth Geneva Accord [Footnote], during a military operation in the West Bank city of Bethlehem November 3, 2006. (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson)
In addition, a second young Palestinian man had been ordered by the Israeli soldiers to carry any furniture - that has not already been totally destroyed - out of the building.
Israeli soldiers using a Palestinian man as a human shield to plant an automatic shooting machine in a besieged house, in contravention with the Fourth Geneva Accord, during a military operation in the West Bank city of Bethlehem November 3, 2006. (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson)
A large bulldozer (a 'bagger') arrived on the scene around 1pm and began knocking down the three-story building.
Footnote: The Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects "Persons...who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals", says this about forcing civilians to carry out military activities, punishing family members for the acts of a relative, and punitive house demolitions:
Article 27 - Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.
Article 33 - No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
Article 40 - If protected persons are of enemy nationality, they may only be compelled to do work which is normally necessary to ensure the feeding, sheltering, clothing, transport and health of human beings and which is not directly related to the conduct of military operations.
Article 51 - The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to work unless they are over eighteen years of age, and then only on work which is necessary either for the needs of the army of occupation, or for the public utility services, or for the feeding, sheltering, clothing, transportation or health of the population of the occupied country. Protected persons may not be compelled to undertake any work which would involve them in the obligation of taking part in military operations.
Grave breaches of these Articles are war crimes.
Update, 3 Aug 08: I have consolidated my various posts on the subjects of Israel's use of Palestinian civilians as human shields into a single post, here.