Ophir Haglili

Judea Brigade holds conference about IDF (Zahal) adherence to international law and interaction with civilian populations in Judea and Samaria

Date: 27/10/2011, 12:21 PM     Author: Rotem Eliav

The Judea Brigade held a conference for its officers addressing the interaction with civilian components during operational security activity in the area, specifically Hebron, on Tuesday (October 25).

Organized by the Civil Administration, the conference included lectures by representatives from the Hebron District Coordination and Liaison Offices (DCL), Military Advocacy General, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson Unit, as well as a foreign reporter, a Palestinian businessman and more.

“A day like this is extremely important to us, especially in a place like Hebron where the political and demographic structure is extremely complex,” explained Battalion Commander in the Kfir Brigade, Lt. Col. Arieh Shchori. “After today people will understand these complexities on a deeper level and hopefully get new perspectives.”

“Since the soldiers serving in Judea and Samaria are located within civilian populations, the soldiers’ work is specific and they must use non-lethal means rather than traditional weapons,” explained Head of the Hebron DCL, Lt. Col. Avi Biton. In order to achieve the overarching goal of ensuring security in Judea and Samaria, the soldiers must interact with many different bodies including Israeli Police, Border Police, DCL representatives, both Palestinian and Israeli civilians and more.

They also often come across international organization representatives, which were thoroughly delineated by International Organizations Liaison Officer Lt. Hen Mazzig.

“The IDF (Zahal) and Israeli authorities allow and encourage the work of international organizations in Judea and Samaria,” explained Lt. Mazzig. “The organizations give us a different perspective on the issues we deal with, pointing out ways we can improve and legitimizing our work.”

Among the most prominent organizations operating in Judea and Samaria today is the ICRC, which fulfills a humanitarian mission as defined by the international community and according to the Geneva Accord. Many Red Cross activities in Judea and Samaria are made possible only with the involvement of IDF (Zahal) soldiers that ensure the operations take place safely and smoothly.

“This information is extremely important for us and our soldiers,” said Border Police Operations Officer, Cpt. Avi Harush who has been serving in the region for over 16 years. “There are always new officers and soldiers serving here as well as changes in the laws and regulations we must follow.”

Maj. Yael Bar- Yosef of the Military Advocate General gave an overview of both new and current laws and regulations, clarifying that the IDF (Zahal) strictly follows international law in legal matters as well. Maj. Bar-Yosef expanded on rights of the Palestinians, particularly those underage whose parents must be informed of their arrest and whose arrest must be approved.

“IDF (Zahal) soldiers are legally bound to act in any type of riot, regardless of whether it is held by Palestinians or Israelis,” she continued. “In any act of violence, IDF (Zahal) soldiers must treat both Israelis and Palestinians equally. Additionally, everything taking place in the field must be vigilantly documented and recorded.”

Spokesperson of the Judea and Samaria Division, Cpt. Barak Raz urged the officers to employ ethical values and strictly follow the IDF (Zahal) Spirit since every action may be documented and published by reporters, some of which are planted within Palestinian villages. Giving the point of view of the reporters and answering any of the officers’ questions, a foreign press reporter spoke as well.

Other speakers discussed the structure and current trends of Arab countries and more particularly Palestinian communities, IDF (Zahal) cooperation with Israeli Police forces and interaction the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and more specifically Hebron.

“It’s crucial that the commanders will later convey this information to their soldiers,” added Cpt. Harush. “We can better connect the things taking place in the field with international public opinion and make sure our soldiers operate professionally adhering to the laws.”