Army officer denies his duty to protect Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, 15 Dec. '09, Deir Nidham

December 2009


On 15 December 2009, settlers prevented Palestinian farmers from planting olive trees on the farmers’ land in Deir Nidham, north of Ramallah. Soldiers at the scene did nothing to prevent the harm to the Palestinians. Instead, they closed the area to all civilians, Palestinians and settlers.

A B’Tselem worker documented on video a first lieutenant, who refused to identify himself, treating the Palestinians rudely and ordering them to leave. In response to her question as to whether it was his legal duty to also protect Palestinian residents, he replied that it was not, and contended that it was his job to protect only the settlers. The officer called the Israeli activists who came to the site to plant trees with the Palestinian farmers traitors and added that, in Israel, the penalty for treason is death.

The officer’s contention that it is not the army’s function to protect Palestinians blatantly contradicts international humanitarian law, Israeli High Court of Justice judgments, and the conclusion of various commissions, among them those headed by Yehudit Karp and Meir Shamgar.