Saturday, June 17, 2006

Neighbor, Neighbor

Now I was walking down a dusty road
when along came a neighbor of mine.
He saw me walkin' with my head hung down,
he just had to stop and pass the time.

(ZZ Top, "Neighbor, Neighbor")

From the West Bank:

A Haaretz inquiry reveals that the Israel Defense Forces has increased its use of home demolitions during West Bank arrest raids since a ban on the forced entry of Palestinian civilians into homes of barricaded fugitives.

When the High Court of Justice banned the "neighbor procedure" eight months ago, senior Israel Defense Forces officers warned that this would likely endanger soldiers' lives. Haaretz has learned that new arrest procedures are not any more dangerous to soldiers, but that is because the IDF is using more aggressive tactics during the actual operations.

IDF sources say that the ban diminishes the tactical options of the officers. "The result is that very quickly we escalate in means, in other words, we use the bulldozers," one officer says.

In early October 2005, the High Court justices accepted the petition of human rights organizations against the "neighbor procedure." This tactic, employed hundreds of times in the territories during the first intifada, involved forcing the Palestinian neighbors of wanted militants to enter the homes of the barricaded fugitives in an effort to convince them to surrender, and consequently, also bring out information for the army on the conditions inside the home.

This forcing of Palestinian civilians to act as "agents" for the IDF drew intense public criticism, especially when a Palestinian from a village in the northern West Bank was shot and killed by his barricaded neighbor during the application of the "neighbor procedure."

The High Court ban forced the army to adopt new arrest methods, which do not endanger soldiers' lives as military sources had previously warned, says a senior IDF officer serving in the West Bank because "they take no chances. Not one of us will send a soldier to check a home in which it is known that a living, armed fugitive is barricaded, before we have carried out very aggressive action."

Unintended consequences; ick. The Court was clearly right to outlaw the neighbor procedure. And the IDF is sensible to use bulldozers sooner as a result. The Americans would clearly do the same thing. The troops are in an impossible position.


(nod to RL)