Hamas and Human Shields: Is it a “human shield” if they’re willing?

Here’s the latest posting at the IDF YouTube site.

The combatant calls to a group of kids who appear to be accompanied by an adult woman and they wllingly go to provide cover for him.

This raises 2 points:

1. In terms of Israel getting blasted for collecive punishment, and for not discerning between civilians and miltants — how are you supposed to do that when everyone is involved, some wllingly? In this case the kids and woman are enabling a terrorst to escape after he committed terror act. What is their level of responsibility/involvement? legally? How should Israel respond when Hamas exploits the fact that Israel won’t attack civilians?

2. Is this not proof that Israel doesn’t fire deliberately on civilians. If they did, this tactic would make no sense. Here he exploits the IDF’s unwillingness to incur Palestinian civilian casualties, and yet Goldstone condems them for it.

Note that the Goldstone Commission explicitly addressed this issue with a dismissive sweep of the hand now familiiar to those reading the report. They themselves cite the following video in which a Hamas leader, warned by cell phone by an Israeli intelligence officer that his house will be bombed, acts just as the fellow in the video above. Goldstone’s response:

The Mission notes, however, that the incident occurred in 2007. No such incidents are alleged by the Israeli Government with regard to the military operations that began on 27 December 2008. The Mission received no reports of such incidents from other sources.

Couldn’t have looked very hard. Israel Matsav posts a good example from January 8, 2009:

Notes “the Mission,

475. The Mission is also aware of the public statement by Mr. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, on 29 February 2009, which is adduced as evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields. Mr. Hammad reportedly stated that … the Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death seeking. For the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the mujahideen excel and the children excel. Accordingly,

476. Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack. The Government of Israel has not identified any such cases.

Historians often use this kind of reasoning when the evidence disturbs their argument… “there is no evidence… nothing suggests that… not a shred of evidence supports…” It’s got nothing to do with reality, only with narrative.

Read the rest of Israel Matsav’s analysis.

14 Responses to Hamas and Human Shields: Is it a “human shield” if they’re willing?

  1. Solomonia says:

    Your Daily Goldstones…

    It’ll be awhile before this passes. Here is some more substantive reading material by the people pushing back: In the Wall Street Journal, NGO Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg writes: U.N. Smears Israeli Self-Defense As ‘War Crimes’ – A one-sided report …

  2. Richard Landes says:

    Elder of Ziyon writes:

    Terrorists and laws of war

    A dozen international experts on the law of armed conflict have withdrawn their support from a June 1 final report by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after five years of providing advice. The experts opposed the ICRC’s failure to define the treaty phrase “direct participation in hostilities,” as applying to people who voluntarily become human shields during a conflict or hostilities.
    The law experts, who had been asked to help the Red Cross craft a definition of the phrase, withdrew their names to protest several issues, including the decision not to define voluntary human shields as direct participants in hostilities. All 50 experts on the panel had agreed that civilians who act as voluntary human shields should fit within the definition, which would make them legitimate military targets.

    The final report defines “civilians attempting to shield a military objective by their presence” as persons entitled to protection against direct attack. It states that the conduct of voluntary human shields “does not amount to direct participation in hostilities.”

    One participant in the process said the ICRC decision might prevent military forces from targeting legitimate terrorist groups and their operations.

    The participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the ICRC failed to further consult with the experts even though it knew the experts disagreed with the international organization on the issue.

    “When the final report was circulated to the experts two weeks ago, it contained a major abandonment of key portions of the final draft agreed to by the experts,” he said.

    The withdrawal of a total of 12 experts, many of whom are prominent international legal scholars, took place in the days before the report was released June. “Those who did are the bigger names, too, practitioners rather than the academicians and NGOs – from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch – who normally align with ICRC,” the participant said.

    The experts’ group included lawyers from Britain, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Lebanon, Barbados, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, India, Tanzania, Argentina, and Israel.

    The American participant said the ICRC decision was “inconsistent with U.S. federal court decisions, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions, domestic court decisions in other nations, decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and state practice in international armed conflict.”

    He said the ICRC’s failure to offer an accurate statement of existing law, notwithstanding advice to the contrary by the legal experts it enlisted, “was critical to my decision” not to support the report.

    “I am disappointed that the ICRC chose to ignore the work and advice of the legal experts it enlisted and instead produced a political rather than legal document that as a consequence is an incomplete and inaccurate statement of the law.”

    A Texas-based law professor said in an e-mail to the ICRC that he believed it was “substantially changing the conclusions offered by its experts.” “I hereby withdraw authorization of identification or any other listing of me as a participant in the ICRC study that endeavored to define the treaty phrase ‘taking a direct part in hostilities’ in the 1977 Protocol I additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions,” he wrote.

    A Tel Aviv University law professor also withdrew his support for the ICRC saying he considered the final language as a “personal betrayal.” This professor said he had offered a compromise on the language identifying voluntary human shields as legitimate military targets if they were defined as having “membership in irregularly constituted armed groups – not belonging to any belligerent party.”

    But, he said, “if you insist on proceeding with the publication of the present text, I must withdraw my name from the project.” He ultimately was among those who did. A Dutch specialist on international criminal and humanitarian law closely involved in organizing the experts stated that his institute “has decided to take under review the question of whether [it] wishes to have its name associated in any way with the final document.”

    A German professor also opposed the final ICRC report dropping references to voluntary civilian human shields and asked the ICRC to “delete my name from the list of participants.”

    ICRC spokesman Florian Westphal said in an e-mail that the experts’ views “widely informed” the report, titled “Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law (IHL).”

    However, “the aim of the Interpretive Guidance is not to reflect a unanimous view or majority opinion of the experts, but to provide the ICRC’s own recommendations as to how IHL relating to the notion of ‘direct participation in hostilities’ should be interpreted in contemporary armed conflict,” Mr. Westphal said.

    The expert meetings were held under rules that prohibit identifying the members publicly, he said.

    “The use of human shields constitutes a violation of IHL,” he stated. “The ICRC has condemned this practice in past and recent conflicts and will continue to do so in the future.”

    The report came to a “nuanced conclusion” on what circumstances under which voluntary human shields lose protection from attack, he said.

    “There was no ‘betrayal’ [of the experts],” Mr. Westphal said.

    “While the Interpretive Guidance is not legally binding, the ICRC hopes that it will be persuasive to states, nonstate actors, practitioners and academics alike and that, ultimately, it will help better protect the civilian population from the dangers of warfare,” he said.

  3. oao says:

    was there any doubt as to how this would come out?

  4. Cynic says:

    ultimately, it will help better protect the civilian population from the dangers of warfare,” he said.

    and how does the ICRC define civilian especially when people dress in civilian clothes or ‘mufti’ as the British defined civilian dress for military operatives?

  5. MSM Outlets Really, Really Psyched About Girl “Seeking Justice For Gaza” At ICC…

    Alternative MR headline: “Oh Please:” Girl, 15, seeks justice for Gaza in world court (AFP) – Aug 31, 2009 – THE HAGUE — A 15-year-old Palestinian girl who says Israeli troops killed her father and two siblings in Gaza……

  6. JeremyR says:

    Just a brief note off topic. Have you been by little green footballs of late? might you consider delinking them? Thanks.

  7. E.G. says:

    The IDF is really sadistic.
    All these Gaza/Hamas “operatives” and “activists” and their spouses and parents and brothers and cousins and children seek is death – and the IDF won’t give it to them!
    So these civilians complain because it’s their Human Right to seek death and the IDF is violating it.

  8. oao says:

    Just a brief note off topic. Have you been by little green footballs of late? might you consider delinking them? Thanks.

    on what grounds?

  9. oao says:

    So these civilians complain because it’s their Human Right to seek death and the IDF is violating it.

    the gaul.

  10. Cynic says:

    RL,
    Please excuse the tangent.

    oao,
    Seeing you ask Just a brief note off topic. …………
    on what grounds?

    Guys, Guys, Guys: Please Stop Off-Topicking Every Thread About LGF

    He’s also ranting about Rush Limbaugh again. Apparently Limbaugh did a satirical piece to illustrate the double-standard on racial segregation, but CJ ….

    Maybe this is enough? Lots of other things apparently but nothing to stop us getting back on track.
    More on that blog relating to LGF.

  11. oao says:

    Maybe this is enough? Lots of other things apparently but nothing to stop us getting back on track.
    More on that blog relating to LGF.

    I don’t agree with all LGF stuff, but:

    i don’t particularly like limbaugh, i think he is an ass, which exploits anti-leftist feelings for his own interest. like alibama, he may be shrewd but not wise.

    i also think that the so-called conservative movement he represents, including the republican elite, is pathetic. LGF’s criticism with or without the limbaugh issue is justified.

    we gotta be careful here not to suffer from the same enforcement of dogma as the left.

  12. Solomonia says:

    Carnival of the Goldstone Report…

    It’s not really a blog carnival in the traditional sense, it’s really more of a link dump. Lot and lots of commentary and analysis of the Goldstone Report. All quality. Elder of Ziyon continues mining gold: Goldstone report inaccuracies, part……

  13. Icky Dick Fungus says:

    umm… for all your harping on the dishonesty of the MSM, evil distortions of pictures and truth, bla bla bla… the translation on the video of Hamas calling “children” to form a human shield to protect against a threatened air strike is wrong. It doesn’t say children. It says “jamahir sh3abna”, literally “the masses of our people”. In the bottom right hand corner, as part of the identifying graphic for the news channel, there’s a slogan that says “Min l’atfal gaza?”, or “Who is for the Children of Gaza?” It’s quite clearly unrelated to the newsticker item.

  14. [...] Hamas and Human Shields: Is it a “human shield” if they’re willing? Filed under: Arab-Israeli Conflict, Goldstone Report, Palestinian Culture — Richard Landes @ 2:46 pm — Print This Post Edit This [...]

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