Thursday, April 12, 2007

On video: Palestinian as human shield

"JERUSALEM - Sameh Amira was fast asleep when he was jolted awake by pounding at the front door. Israeli troops were on a manhunt for wanted militants in the West Bank and decided to draft help.

The terror-stricken 24-year-old Palestinian soon found himself forced onto the front lines of Israel's shadowy war against militants, a human shield as he led heavily armed soldiers from house to house. "I was afraid I would die," he said in a recent interview.

For several years, Palestinians had complained about the army's use of human shields, but proof was difficult to come by. Then in late February, Associated Press Television News captured footage of the incident involving Amira.

The video has prompted the army to launch a rare criminal investigation into whether its soldiers violated a landmark Israeli Supreme Court 2005 ruling barring the use of human shields. Others, including an 11-year-old girl, have been emboldened to come forward with similar accounts of being compelled to walk ahead of soldiers looking for militants.

International law, including the Geneva Conventions and Hague regulations, prohibits placing civilians in harm's way during military operations......"

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