Israeli High Court considers use of flechette shells

The Israeli High Court held a session on Sunday, 13 April 2003, to consider the case of the use of flechette anti-personnel shells by the Israeli army. PCHR and Physicians for Human Rights appealed to the court to issue a decision to absolutely prohibit the use of flechette shells by the Israeli army in its military operations.

The court considered the case in light of the sharp increase in the use of these internationally banned shells by the Israeli army, which have caused dozens of casualties among Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially in the Gaza Strip.

In its response to the court, the Israeli authorities claimed that the Israeli army uses flechette shells in exceptional circumstances and in open areas, but facts available to PCHR and Physicians for Human Rights prove that the Israeli army has used these shells in residential areas, causing dozens of casualties among Palestinian civilians.

The session was concluded without a final judgment, although there were indications that the judges would avoid issuing a decision on types of weaponry used by the IDF, as they consider it interference into the work of the army. This position has been upheld by the court in other cases, such as the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, when the court considered that prohibiting this practice would interfere with the activities and affairs of the army.

PCHR is deeply concerned about the position of the Israeli High Court, which leaves the door open wide for Israeli occupying forces to commit further crimes against Palestinian civilians. PCHR believes that the Israeli judiciary’s position supports that of the Israeli legislature and executive, which have become engaged in encouraging and committing crimes against the Palestinian people. PCHR calls upon the international community to intervene and provide protection for the Palestinian people and stop the crimes committed against them.

Related Links:

  • PCHR and PHR submit petition demanding that Israeli military forces cease use of flechette anti-personnel rounds, PHR, October 2002
  • Flechette Shells: An Illegal Weapon, B’Tselem