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Israeli army policy attacked after Palestinian teen dies

Friday, August 16, 2002

JERUSALEM -- Israeli soldiers strapped a bulletproof vest on a Palestinian teenager and ordered him to approach a house where a Hamas militant was hiding, with instructions to bring out everyone inside.

As he neared the house in the West Bank village of Tubas, 19-year-old Nidal Daraghmeh, an affable amateur weightlifter, was shot in the back of the head and killed -- though it's not clear who pulled the trigger. Troops then flattened the house with bulldozers, killing the Hamas militant. He was the only person inside, according to a neighbor and the military.

The Wednesday evening operation outraged Palestinians and sparked a sharp debate in Israel over a tactic the army has used for years. The army calls it the "neighbor procedure." Critics say the army is using Palestinians as "human shields."

Daraghmeh was one of dozens of residents in Tubas who were called out of their homes by soldiers as they surrounded a home where Hamas militant Nasser Jerar was hiding, the army and Palestinian witnesses said.

Soldiers sent the residents to a nearby field, but ordered Daraghmeh to approach the home and told him to persuade everyone inside to come out so they could arrest Jerar, the military and Palestinian residents said.

Shot in head

But before Daraghmeh reached the door, he was shot -- hit in the back of the head, according to family members who saw the body before Daraghmeh was buried Thursday afternoon.

Soldiers announced on a megaphone that Daraghmeh was approaching the house. But despite the warning, the army said, Jerar fired and killed Daraghmeh.

Soon after the shooting, two army bulldozers destroyed the house with Jerar inside, crushing the militant, who used a wheelchair since losing both legs and an arm when a bomb he was planting exploded last year.

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