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Supreme Court Refuses to Reconsider Ban on IDF Tactic

Israel's Supreme Court rejected a request Monday by the IDF to hold an additional hearing on the IDF counter-terror tactic known as the "neighbor procedure," which the court has deemed illegal.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 2/28/2006, 7:18 AM / Last Update: 2/28/2006, 8:38 AM


Justice Eliezer Rivlin denied the request, saying it is the duty of the IDF to protect both the lives and dignity of local Arab villagers, even during dangerous counter-terror operations. He also ruled that the willingness and consent of an Arab neighbor to assist the army cannot truly be given.

The tactic in question consists of asking, not forcing, an Arab neighbor to knock on the door of a wanted terrorist to convey messages to the fugitive. The method has in the past saved the lives of both IDF soldiers and terrorists themselves, preventing ambushes and shootouts by using the neighbor to relay to a wanted terrorist that his home is surrounded and he might as well give himself up.

"[Israel's] reality will likely complicate the establishment of all-encompassing rules suitable for all possible scenarios," Rivlin wrote, "but on this one issue, the lines are clear and sharp – the safeguarding of the dignity of man no matter who he is…Placing this resident, who is caught in the middle of a battlefield, before a choice - whether or not to agree to the army's request to pass on a warning to a wanted gunman - is placing him before an impossible choice. The choice itself is immoral and harms the dignity of man."

The court originally banned the procedure in October, citing international law. The petition against the practice was brought by the Adalah Arab rights group, which won a seperate court victory Monday against preferential government assistance to Jewish towns in the Negev and Galilee.