IDF Changing Policies to Reduce Injuries Among Palestinian Youth

In the face of mounting complaints from civil rights groups in Israel and abroad about the rising number of casualties among Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Force is revising army regulations and instituting new procedures.

The defense establishment also has adjusted its use of administrative detention, following appeals on the subject to the High Court of Justice.

The IDF’s judge advocate general, Brig. Gen. Amnon Strashnov, last week ordered military investigators to give top priority to cases involving the deaths of children in the territories.

Strashnov issued the order a day after the Defense for Children International movement expressed concern about the high number of fatalities among children as Israeli troops try to control the Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

The IDF itself has registered concern over the mounting number of deaths and injuries among young children from IDF fire. Recently, a 2-year-old baby girl in Nablus lost an eye when hit by a rubber bullet.

In the past 10 weeks, 27 children, 10 of whom were under the age of 12, have been killed in the territories.

Strashnov ordered the military police to carry out intensive and speedy investigations of such cases and refer the files to the military prosecution as soon as possible.

FIRING AT ALL MASKED MEN PERMITTED

The army announced Sept. 19 that sharpshooters will accompany every patrol to extricate soldiers from life-threatening situations without inadvertently hitting innocent bystanders.

In another move two days later, military authorities announced new procedures to ensure that relatives are immediately informed when a family member is detained for activities related to the uprising.

The policy was announced after the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed an appeal to the High Court. It has since withdrawn it.

The new procedures, to be implemented early next month, require the commander of any detention facility to ensure every day that all new detainees send postcards to their families.

Not all orders issued last week were concessions to Palestinian complaints. The defense establishment issued orders allowing live ammunition to be fired in the course of disturbances at masked persons, whether or not they are armed.

The IDF believes masked men are the on-scene leaders of the uprising.

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