Human Shields


Did you know that Israeli soldiers are still using children as human shields? This is in spite of the Israeli court passing a law last year which forbids the IDF to use civilians as human shields to protect themselves. During an IDF operation last week, soldiers allegedly took an eleven-year-old girl from her own home and forced her to walk to another home and enter it. Upon entering the building, the soldiers apparently looked around with torches then left. But bless ’em, they did say thank you and told her not to tell anyone!! A fifteen-year-old boy and a Palestinian man were also used for similar purposes during the operations and a Palestinian civilian was shot dead. The incident involving the man was filmed by a news camera crew and this is why the Israeli military, who at first denied the incidents, has now agreed to investigate. Source.

The Israeli courts passed a temporary injunction against the use of civilians as shields in 2002, which came came about after a teenager was killed when forced to negotiate on behalf of the Israeli soldiers. Until then, human rights groups, in particular the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem had been campaigning arduously for this barbaric practise to be outlawed. It’s already an International human rights violation – totally in breach of the Geneva convention and the Israeli government has since banned it totally. But Israeli soldiers, according to human rights groups, have repeatedly violated the ban.

Some of the methods they use:

  • Pick a random Palestinian, often a child, and make him or her enter a building that they suspect is booby-trapped.
  • Force them to walk in front of ‘armed’ Israeli soldiers so that the Palestinians won’t shoot at them.
  • Make them remove suspicious roadside objects.

Although the IDF say they have abandoned the use of human shields in this way, they still believe in the dubious Neighbour Procedure which “requests” that Palestinian civilians enter buildings and demand that the occupants surrender. Well, really! It’s not like they’re free to refuse with a gun pointing at their head?

Just over a year ago there was a human shield incident and the IDF commander defended the action by saying that using Palestinians to protect armed soldiers was a normal procedure implemented to protect his soldiers lives. Source.

In 2004, Israeli soldiers were filmed tying a thirteen-year-old boy to the front of a police jeep in an attempt to stop Palestinian protester’s from throwing stones at them during the construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank.

There are lots more.

Thing is, the Palestinian militants are harshly criticised for surrounding themselves with women and children in order to prevent Israeli attacks, especially by the pro-Israeli right wing propagandists…and the Islamophobes who believe only the Arabs are capable such cowardly things. And I would adamantly agree that it’s cowardly in cases where civilians are forcefully used in this way. But by these standards, the Israeli troops who still use civilians to protect themselves must also be cowards and the anti-Palestinian people must be brave enough to admit this instead of applying double standards.

I hope the IDF will be true to its word and carry out a full investigation on this latest alleged human rights violation. Ultimately, the forced use of civilian human shields is a gross act of cowardice. It’s totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all.

***

’09 update: in the current Israeli attack on Gaza, the IDF is still using Palestinians as human sheilds. Amnesty reports here and  this is the testimony of Maysa’ a-Samuni.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. It is sheer cowardice, using innocent people like children and women as shields only occurs to cowardly minds.

    Reply

  2. Absolutely. It sickens me.

    Reply

  3. The conflict out there is mind numbingly unsolveable. I was there as a ‘backpacker’ for 6 mths in 1992. I met, worked with and became friends with a lot of young Israelis just out of the army. They didn’t like talking about their experiences & were relieved to be back in civilian life.

    Both sides use unbelieveably nasty tactics but, Israel is the stronger side thanks to US subsidies. Without those subsidies Israel fall apart. As a so-called democratic state Israel has a responsibility to act within theirs & international laws. They often don’t, as your example points out.

    I find it deeply disturbing that monies are being held back by Israel from Gaza & that they don’t allow trade to operate without their controls. Their boats patrolling off-shore for example is way over the top.

    Reply

  4. OMG!! I can’t believe people could do that. How can you stand there and send an helpless child into a booby trapped house. How can you stand there with out emotion and watch a man forced to walk in front of armed soldiers. I can’t believe we live in a world where one humans life is valued over someone elses.

    Reply

  5. Matty hi, yes, it’s heartbreakingly frustrating. Neither side is right and neither side is wrong. (And I’m aware that is a rotten answer that brings no comfort to anyone.)

    I can’t ever the condone suicide bombings and missile launches at innocent civilians by the Pals but I do think the Israeli gorvernment and the IDF has an awful lot to answer for.

    A good article here….
    http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0311-26.htm

    Pocket, truly awful isn’t it.

    Reply

  6. I read your link earthpal. Israel & the US are asking Palestinians to recognize Israel’s ‘right’ to exist because they know that this won’t happen. It’s a ploy to fail the Hamas government by excusing the Israelis of releasing funds to Hamas & the people of Gaza. Smoke & mirrors … as well as sticks & stones.

    Reply

  7. Absolutely Matt.

    Reply

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