Israel army admits blindfolding Palestinians against protocol

Aug 15,2019

Activists’ petition to High Court details incidents of shepherds being detained and blindfolded, seemingly for punitive purposes, 25 times over two and a half years.

A petition to Israel’s Supreme Court has forced the Israeli army to admit that its soldiers break protocol by blindfolding Palestinians in their custody.

At the end of May, a petition was filed to Israel’s Supreme Court by a group of left-wing activists who had compiled two and a half years’ worth of evidence from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley who were routinely detained by Israeli army soldiers.

During their detention, the Palestinians were handcuffed and often blindfolded for several hours, a practice the Israeli army has now been forced to admit breaks the institution’s own protocol, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

The petition argued that the large number of cases of detention and blindfolding points to “an obscene habit of the Jordan Valley Brigade [of the Israeli army], aimed at punishing the Palestinian shepherds and/or simply abusing them.”

It also stated that in some cases, Israeli activists accompanying the shepherds were also detained, but unlike the Palestinians they were not blindfolded, indicating a clear policy of discrimination, the Israeli daily added.

On Sunday, the state prosecution submitted its response to the May petition, seeking dismissal of the case on the grounds that “military orders and regulations forbid the blindfolding of detainees, and action to clarify the rules to the troops acting in the region has been taken and will continue to be taken on a continuous basis.”

Itay Mack, the attorney for the activists, therefore agreed to withdraw the petition since the goal of forcing the Israeli army to admit its soldiers had broken protocol by blindfolding the detained Palestinians had been achieved.

Haarerz