Israel's new Army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Levy, has issued new guidelines for dealing with the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an outgrowth of a military court ruling that commanders in the occupied territories had issued "clearly illegal" orders to their troops.
Israeli sources said the new guidelines do not change basic Army regulations or practices but are more explicit and generally more restrictive than the previous guidelines.
The new instructions were not made public, but sources cited as one example of new Army practices the sealing off of the rooms of Arabs convicted of violating Israeli occupation laws. Previously in such cases, the Israelis would seal off the entire dwelling place of an Arab convicted of violating occupation laws regardless of how many other people lived there.
The new guidelines resulted from a ruling by a military court in February in the trial of seven soldiers who were accused of beating and otherwise mistreating West Bank Arabs during disturbances in the territory last spring. The court convicted four of the soldiers and ruled that some orders issued by their commanders in the West Bank were illegal and should have been disobeyed.
In the course of the trial, Levy's predecessor, retired Lt. Gen. Rafael Eitan, acknowledged that he had issued guidelines instructing the Army to "harass" Arabs considered to be troublemakers by the Israelis. The court ruled that Eitan's orders were not illegal, but said directives by local commanders to beat Arab demonstrators clearly were.