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Neighbours as human shields? The Israel Defense Forces’ "Early Warning Procedure" and international humanitarian law

31-12-2004 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 856, by Roland Otto


Roland Otto
Dipl. Jur., Research Fellow at the Institute of International Law, University of Göttingen. 

The " Early Warning Procedure " enables the Israel Defense Forces to obtain assistance by a civilian volunteer, i.e. a neighbour, to arrest a wanted person in the occupied territories. The author argues that, if the fact that protected persons cannot renounce their rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention is taken into account, this policy violates the prohibition whereby protected persons cannot be forced to serve in the occupying power's armed forces and to participate in military operations, as well as the prohibition on the use of human shields. In this context, international humanitarian law is lex specialis in relation to human rights law. Considered from another angle, the policy also violates the principle of proportionality, as it is possible for the forces to achieve their aims at a higher risk to themselves but without the danger of any harm to the civilian in question.


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