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Human Shields

by Carlos

July 22, 2006 -

"The use of civilians, including a state’s own citizens, as human shields to protect military objectives from attack is a violation of international humanitarian law amounting to a war crime."

- "International Humanitarian Law Issues In A Potential War In Iraq," Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, February 20, 2003.

Today on Fox News television Greg Palkot, reporting from the scene in Lebanon, disclosed that Hezbollah fighters position themselves in populated areas before firing on Israeli positions. The intent is to create civilian casualties when the IDF returns fire. Hezbollah knows that Lebanese deaths play very well in the media, mobilize popular anger, and bring new recruits.

The Israeli Army has tried to minimize civilian casualties. It has warned people to leave areas in southern Lebanon in advance of an attack. But placing its own cynical brand of public relations before the lives of Lebanese citizens, Hezbollah has stopped as many as it could from escaping. Hezbollah guerrillas have set up roadblocks outside some villages to make sure the people cannot get away. In other villages they prevented the entrance of UN workers who wanted to help the residents leave. In two villages gunfire erupted between Hezbollah and the people living there.

Hezbollah knows that Israel is hurt by Lebanese as well as Israeli civilian casualties, and is apparently fine with both.

Alan Dershowitz puts it like this:

It should be obvious by now that Hizbullah and Hamas actually want the Israeli military to kill as many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians as possible. That is why they store their rockets underneath the beds of civilians; why they launch their missiles from crowded civilian neighborhoods and hide among civilians. They are seeking to induce Israel to defend its civilians by going after them among their civilian "shields." They know that every civilian they induce Israel to kill hurts Israel in the media and the international and human rights communities.

We must remember what this war is about. Simply counting the dead on both sides gives a very misleading impression. Hezbollah is fighting for the right to shoot rockets into Israeli cities. Israel is fighting to stop them. Hezbollah has shown depraved indifference to all civilian life. This we must remember when people speak of war crimes and international law.

Additional Sources:

Dershowitz, Alan. "The Predictable Condemners." Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2006.

Greenberg, Hanan. "IDF: Hizbullah preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon.", July 18, 2006.

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