The Jewish state's tactics in the Palestinian territories have been blasted by human rights groups and prompted dozens of UN resolutions against Israel, which have been ignored.

Despite this, the US military, which lost three soldiers on Sunday in the latest attacks in an unstable Iraq, has shown interest in Israeli software that instructs soldiers on how to conduct themselves in the West Bank and Gaza, an Israeli military official has said.

Using animated graphics and clips from war movies such as Apocalypse Now, the software outlines a "code of conduct" for avoiding abuse of civilians while manning roadblocks, searching homes and conducting other activities, Lt Col Amos Guiora, head of the School of Military Law in Jerusalem told the AP news agency last week.

Israeli troops face fierce criticism from Palestinians and human rights groups. Two weeks ago, Amnesty International said in a report that Israeli military checkpoints and curfews violated Palestinians' human rights.

US soldiers have also faced criticism in Iraq, where they have been accused of using excessive force.

Interest

Guiora told AP that US military officials had recently seen the software, which was developed this year, and expressed interest. The Israeli military is now working on an English version for them.

"There are complicated issues. The fact that this (software) is so user-friendly, that it has the movie clips, the sounds, the animation - we felt this was the best way"

Lt Col Amos Guiora,
head of Jerusalem's School of Military Law

A US official with the Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that American officers had seen the Israeli software and considered it useful.

Guiora said the software was developed after military lawyers found themselves giving dry lectures to uninterested audiences of troops. It is now being distributed to junior commanders in the Israeli military. 

"There are complicated issues. The fact that this (software) is so user-friendly, that it has the movie clips, the sounds, the animation - we felt this was the best way," he said.

Israel's military has set up dozens of roadblocks in the West Bank and Gaza to keep human bombers out of Israel. But Palestinians say the travel restrictions unfairly make life a misery for millions. In some cases, sick Palestinians heading to hospitals have died at roadblocks.

Excessive force

Human rights groups have also accused troops of using excessive force and said soldiers were often confused about the rules of engagement.

The "code of conduct" includes principles such as not shooting at anyone who is surrendering, showing respect for religious and cultural artifacts and providing medical care to anyone injured, if conditions allow.

The software also presents scenarios troops are likely to encounter.

In one, Guiora has said, two soldiers drive up to a pile of rocks blocking the road and are told it may be mined. Their choices are: call mine-clearing experts, remove the rocks themselves, or get some Palestinians to do it.

Anyone who goes for the last option is disabused by the program.