On Monday, July 21st, Israeli forces used Palestinian civilians as human shields in the village of Azzun, a village west of the city of Nablus.
On most evenings several Israeli jeeps are stationed just outside the Azzun’s north gate. At 10 o’clock in the evening on the night in question, approximately 15 soldiers entered the main square of the village.
Witnesses report that a few young men responded to this invasion by throwing stones at the jeeps from a distance of approximately 200 meters. The soldiers spent the next few minutes stopping cars on the road and began forcing the drivers to arrange their cars in a circle. The soldiers then forced these residents of Azzun to surrender their keys. The occupants of the cars included women and children. They were very frightened and the soldiers did not allow them to leave. The Israeli forces positioned themselves inside the circle formed by the cars, began to fire tear gas at the youths, and knelt behind the civilian occupants of the cars as to protect themselves.
The use of civilian human shields is prohibited by Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel ratified this convention in 1951.
Israeli forces have a long history of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. From the years 2000 to 2005, they admitted to using human shields more than 1,200 times. This practice was banned by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2005, but human rights groups have accused the Israeli army of continuing to use it.
During the Gaza massacre of 2008-2009 Israeli occupation forces were accused by Amnesty International, as well as former Israeli soldiers, of using Palestinian children as human shields.