updated 10/6/2005 4:29:46 AM ET 2005-10-06T08:29:46

Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday banned the military’s practice of using Palestinian civilians as “human shields” in arrest raids, saying it violates international law.

The court ruled in response to petitions by human rights groups.

In August 2002, the court had issued a temporary injunction against the practice. Human rights groups have said the military has repeatedly violated the ban since then.

In Thursday’s ruling, the court said the practice amounts to a “slide down the slope toward a severe violation of international law.”

Marwan Dallal, an attorney for the Israeli human rights group Adallah, said: “It’s an important decision, but we need to see if the military will abide by it.”

The human shield practice became an issue in the spring of 2002, when the Israeli military carried out a major offensive in the West Bank, in response to a series of suicide bombings by Palestinian militants.

During arrest raids, soldiers would sometimes force Palestinian civilians to approach the homes and hideouts of wanted people. In some of these cases, the civilians were caught in crossfire and were wounded or killed.

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