The IDF takes pride in the existence of directives intended to minimize harm to the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Territories. However, testimonies B'Tselem has taken from soldiers reveal that many soldiers are unfamiliar with these directives. In many cases, the orders to avoid harming Palestinian civilians do not reach the soldier on the ground.
In response to the IDF's "policy of ambiguity" with regard to its own orders, B'Tselem has issued a 20-page pocket guide, designed for IDF soldiers. The guide includes basic rules to be followed by soldiers stationed in the Occupied Territories. All the rules in the guide accord with standing IDF orders.
Among the rules included in the guide: the duty to allow patients in need of urgent medical treatment passage through checkpoints; the duty to allow medicines, water and food supplies into Palestinian populations centers; the prohibition to shoot "rubber" bullets toward children, and more.
"It is not our job to inform soldiers about the IDF's standing regulations and it is appalling that we have to tell soldiers something so self-evident, like allowing passage to those needing urgent medical care," said B'Tselem's Executive Director, Jessica Montell. "But B'Tselem has documented so many cases of ignorance about these orders, that we realized we had no choice."
Starting Sunday, March 10 2002, dozens of B'Tselem volunteers will hand out the pocket guides at soldier meeting and transport points in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva, Haifa and other places around the country.
(The Guide is below)
Service in the Occupied Territories presents you, the soldier, with a complex challenge: to carry out your duties without causing needless harm to the civilian population.
This pocket guide is intended to assist you in maintaining the values that are important to us all.
The entire contents of this guide are consistent with IDF standing orders.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
YOU MUST ALLOW medical teams to cross through checkpoints.
IT IS FORBIDDEN to fire at ambulances.
IT IS YOUR DUTY to allow sick persons requiring emergency treatment to cross at checkpoints, even if they do not have permits.
YOU MUST ALLOW the entry of medicine, medical equipment, water, and foodstuffs into Palestinian villages.
YOU ARE FORBIDDEN to beat, abuse, degrade, or "punish" Palestinian residents.
Rubber-coated metal bullets fired from a Roma GG or RRNM are lethal. It is forbidden to fire "rubber bullets" at children.
YOU MUST ALLOW journalists to do their work without interference and IT IS FORBIDDEN TO HARM THEM.
YOU MUST PREVENT Israeli civilians from harming Palestinian civilians and their property.
ALL IDF SOLDIERS MUST IDENTIFY THEMSELVES by giving their name, rank, and serial number to any person who requests the information - Israeli,
Palestinian, or foreign national.