UPDATE 2: Israel using “Voluntary” Human Shields

[Update 1 2014-07-27 release from the Whitehouse is included in the conclusion – Update 2 2014-08-22 adds information from DCI-Palestine about Israel still using children as Human Shields during this latest Gaza onslaught]

BBSNews 2014-08-22 — By Michael Hess. So much of a red-herring has been made out of the claim that Hamas uses “human shields” when the fact is, it is Israel that has the documented history of using individual Palestinian kids as human shields. Does this absolve Palestinian militant freedom fighters of any tactics they might use that could rise to the level of War Crimes? No. But it surely does not absolve Israel of them either.

Gaza kids on the beach in Gaza in the summer of 2007.

Gaza kids on the beach in Gaza in the summer of 2007.

In November 2002 B’Tselem released a special report on the Israeli Army’s use of Palestinians as Human Shields. Reading the report once again made me want to vomit. It is disgusting the kind of monsters that Israelis have become. From the conclusion of the B’Tselem report:

For a long time, the IDF has been using Palestinians as human shields and ordering them to carry out military tasks that pose a threat to their lives. In implementing this policy, Palestinian civilians have been forced to carry out tasks such as removing suspicious objects from roads, ordering people to leave their homes to be arrested by the IDF, and standing in front of soldiers who were firing from behind them.

These tasks were forced upon civilians who were chosen at random and could not refuse the orders given to them by armed soldiers. Israel agreed to change its policy on the use of human shields only after a petition was filed in the High Court of Justice. The change in policy was only partial. It took the death of a Palestinian civilian and an additional petition to the High Court for the state to prohibit all use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, including the “neighbor procedure.” As this report shows, the IDF has violated the Court’s injunction.

The position of the state and the IDF Spokesperson, as presented above, that the “neighbor procedure” is legal because it does not come within the rubric of human shields, is inexplicable. The main reason that soldiers themselves do not knock on the door of the house of a person they want to arrest is because they fear that they will be injured. The assumption that a Palestinian carrying out the task instead of the soldiers would not get hurt is entirely unfounded. The assumption was completely disproved by the death of Nidal Abu Mukhsan; yet, the IDF did not change its policy.

Furthermore, the “neighbor procedure” would be illegal even if the state’s claim that it does not come within the rubric of human shield were true. One of the basic principles of international law is that civilians are to be distanced from combat zones and protected from dangers stemming from military actions. Forcing Palestinians to endanger their lives is a clear violation of this principle, as well as an infringement of the right to life, dignity, bodily integrity, and liberty. In addition, the “neighbor procedure” would be illegal even if the Palestinians who were forced to take part in it were not exposed to any danger, simply because of the explicit prohibition against forcing civilians to take part in any kind of military activity.

I urge Americans to read the B’Tselem report excerpted above and the testimonies within it. It will turn your stomach, it will make you disgusted and sick, but you must learn what Israel is really all about. American National Security depends on what Americans actually know about Israel putting the United States in such mortal danger. In December 2005 the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) announced the result of the above noted petition filed by “ACRI, Adalah, B’Tselem, Qanun (Law), Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual” against the “neighbor procedure” when the Israeli High Court outlawed the practice on October 22nd, 2005 writing:

“…the Supreme Court ruled that the use of Palestinian civilians in military operations constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law, and banned the army’s use of civilians either as “human shields or hostages”. The President of the Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, further added that “the army cannot use civilians for its purposes” and that “you cannot exploit the civilian population for the army’s military needs, and you cannot force them to collaborate with the army”. The petition demanded that the practice of using Palestinian civilians as human shields during military operation in the occupied territories, be halted, and was directed against the IDF Commander of Judea and Samaria, The Israeli Chief of Staff and the Prime Minister. The decision follows three years of dedicated and exhaustive litigation work by Adalah Attorney, Marwan Dalal.

In April 2002, during the IDF Defensive Shield operation in Jenin, reports started to filter through that the IDF were forcing Palestinian citizens to act as human shields: to accompany them during military operations, to stand in front of them, to knock on doors, to remove suspicious objects from the street, to order people to leave their houses so that the IDF could detain them, to stand in front of soldiers while the latter were firing from behind them, and other fighting tactics that endangered their lives. The citizens, among them children and old people who were chosen randomly, could not refuse the order of armed soldiers.”

That’s right, the “most moral army in the world” uses old people and KIDS as Human Shields when perpetrating War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity against innocent Palestinian women and children and “old people”. It is monstrous that there has been so little coverage of these facts by the so-called “mainstream media” who only print news they are told to print by those who support Israel’s well-documented and continued crimes spanning decades. In covering these events from TWELVE YEARS AGO ACRI further writes:

“…In May 2002 the petitioning organizations submitted a petition to the Supreme Court against the use of human beings to achieve military goals. The organizations claimed that the IDF was denying innocent civilians the right to life, dignity, and freedom. The submission of the original petition resulted in the issuance of an order by the IDF, which prohibited the use of civilians as human shields. The IDF informed the court on 5 December 2002 that it opposes the use of human shields but then issued a new operational order, “the prior warning” order, which allowed the use of local Palestinian residents when arresting fugitives. The order was allegedly designed “to prevent injury to the local population and the fugitives themselves”. The use of local residents was supposed to give the residents of the fugitive’s house enough warning that the arrest was about to take place, providing innocent bystanders with time to get out of the building and allowing the fugitive to turn himself in. In this way, the IDF would purportedly avoid using force and endangering bystanders. The order was dependent upon the agreement of the individual in question to help the soldiers, and only if in the opinion of the officer in the field no danger would be posed to the life of the Palestinian citizen “volunteer”.

On 21 January 2003, the Supreme Court authorized the implementation of the “prior warning order”. During the hearing in July 2003 the petitioners submitted affidavits demonstrating that the IDF ignores the section of the order that prohibits endangering the individual’s life, and that the condition requiring the resident’s agreement is meaningless.”

As I have been writing for many years, the rule of law is meaningless in Israel when it comes to furthering the “Greater Israel” project that the Israelis have undertaken since even before the state of Israel was established by terror (and Western guilt over the Holocaust) in 1948.

So that must be the end of Israel using Human Shields after this ruling right? Wrong. In November of 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) penned a report about the ridiculous sentence handed down to two IDF soldiers were were convicted of using a CHILD for a Human Shield during Cast Lead I in 2008-2009 writing:

“The slap on the wrist for these soldiers is another slap in the face for the victims of violations during Operation Cast Lead,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Not only do these sentences seem unjustifiably lenient, but two years later, they are the only sentences Israel has handed down for serious human rights violations among the many alleged during the Gaza offensive.”

The court ruling, which demoted two staff sergeants to the rank of sergeant and gave them suspended three-month sentences, sends a dangerous signal that the Israeli military justice system will not seriously sanction soldiers convicted for offenses that are war crimes under international law, Human Rights Watch said…”

It is appalling to read these facts I know, for the people who are uninformed by the “mainstream media” about Israeli OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED War Crimes. Although there is a refreshing change from reporting as usual now under Cast Lead II, AKA the current criminal operation by Israel that the misnamed as “Operation Protective Edge”, an operation driven by Bibi Netanyahu even as he is driving Israel into oblivion. The details of the case were spelled out by HRW in this way:

“The Israeli southern command military court indicted the two staff sergeants in March for separating nine-year-old Majed R. from his mother and ordering him at gunpoint to open bags suspected of containing booby-trapped bombs in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, south of Gaza City, on January 15, 2009. No explosives were found. The court convicted the soldiers in October of ‘exceeding authority to the point of endangering life or health,’ which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, and the disciplinary offense of ‘conduct unbecoming’ a commander.

The laws of war applicable during the Gaza offensive prohibit as a war crime the deliberate use of civilians to shield against enemy attack. Shielding is prohibited under Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to Gaza as an occupied territory. The First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which reflects customary international law generally and in this instance, says that, ‘Individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations.'”

They callously used a NINE YEAR-OLD kid to protect these “great men” from the vaunted “most moral army in the world” and got a “slap on the wrist”. A child! This has gone on and on no matter what international law says, no matter what the Israeli High Court said, the horrible atrocity continues to this very day and all to protect soldiers tasked with subjugating the indigenous people of Palestine in the ongoing insane quest for “Greater Israel”. Would you want your nine year-old child treated in this way? Of course not, any thinking, feeling, breathing moral human being should be appalled at this outlawed practice by the “world’s most moral army”.

So after this incident, and the many before it, surely the IDF has discontinued this odious, offensive and immoral practice right? No, in June of 2013 Reuters reported on the release of a new United Nations Report from the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child that shows the continued use of Palestinians as Human Shields by Israel “defense” forces writing that the report:

“…voiced deep concern at the “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants”, saying 14 such cases had been reported between January 2010 and March 2013 alone.

Israeli soldiers had used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings before them and to stand in front of military vehicles to deter stone-throwing, it said.

“Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a nine-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted,” it said.

So surely after this report in 2013 the atrocious practice of using Palestinians as Human Shields is now finally over and it has stopped right? Wrong again, as I have written for so many years the rule of law means nothing to Israel and that is because Israel is completely protected by the United States who bankrolls these practices and far more terrifying is that even under President Obama, the U.S. President that the world had so much hope for, Israel still commits atrocities and War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity with unique abandon enjoying complete impunity because of the autoveto by the United States whenever there is an attempt by the world body to at least reprimand Israel for it’s illegal and harmful to U.S. National Security actions in their ongoing and odious quest for the impossibility of a “Greater Israel”.

The Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reported THIS YEAR, July 18th, 2014, more than twelve years later from the first incident I reported above, the following:

“Speaking this morning as Israeli forces continue a new ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu described the IDF as ‘a moral army like no other’. He added: ‘those responsible for the damage to uninvolved civilians are the Hamas, and Hamas alone, who use civilians as human shields.’

It is a familiar refrain. But in fact, it is the Israeli military itself that turns Palestinians into ‘human shields’, and strips them of their protected status under international law.”

In short, this latest Prime Minister of Israel, Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is lying through his teeth, right in the face of the public, in full view of the reams of evidence to the contrary over well more than a decade, that all these actions are the fault of the VICTIMS of Israeli aggression, land and resource theft, home demolitions, the use of kids for Human Shields, the extremely well-documented War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity committed by Israel over many decades against the captive and occupied Palestinians. Ben White from MEMO continues:

In the aftermath of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article on the legal advice given to the country’s armed forces by the international law division (ILD) of the Military Advocate General’s Office.

Addressing the subject of IDF-issued warnings to Gaza residents, including the so-called ‘knock on the roof‘ tactic seen in ‘Operation Protective Edge’, a senior ILD figure made the following, disturbing admission.

The people who go into a house despite a warning do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields. From the legal point of view, I do not have to show consideration for them. In the case of people who return to their home in order to protect it, they are taking part in the fighting.

In other words, the Israeli military strips Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip of their protected status under international law, labeling them ‘voluntary human shields’. In the same article, an ILD official justified targeting Gaza’s “entire governmental infrastructure”.

As Israel deliberately targets family homes, and the death toll rises, this is an important additional insight into the tactics being used by the Israeli army in its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. It is also further evidence of war crimes.


There is no denying that Israel is using, and has for many years, innocent Palestinians including children as Human Shields. Bibi cynically tries to claim that Hamas is using civilians as Human Shields because in Gaza, with 1.8 million people, Hamas should fight in a different way in an Israeli embargoed, blockaded, restricted, open-air prison enclave where you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a civilian, half of them kids.

Bibi expects those that fight against the Israeli onslaught in their quest to create a complete “Greater Israel” to somehow move civilians out of the blockaded territory when Israel has created a “no-go” area where innocent Palestinian civilians will be shot on sight by Israeli “defense” forces.

This is not “self-defense”, it is premeditated murder of innocent Palestinian civilians, and most cynically the deliberate use of individual civilians, handpicked by the vaunted Israeli “defense” force to protect their soldiers.

It’s not some nebulous claim like Bibi makes about Palestinian militants using Human Shields by virtue of them not being able to do a thing with these civilians because Israel will shoot them dead if they even make a stir.

No, Israel, OFFICIALLY, uses innocent INDIVIDUAL Palestinians, often CHILDREN, in an obscene effort to use kids to protect fully grown “soldiers” from coming into harm through their nefarious and murderous military operations. These are Crimes Against Humanity in full view of the world and the protector of Israel, the enabler, the financier of these crimes, is the United States and I am appalled and sorry that our United States President, Barack Obama, is doing nothing to stop the carnage.

Nothing can be done until the entire world, and not just the 138 countries who voted for Palestine to become an Observer State that the United States, obviously under the control of Israel, voted against.

This happened under U.S. President Barack Obama. His administration voted against Palestinian Observer States status and instead has chosen to support Israeli War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity against innocent Palestinians simply trying to protect themselves from Israel stealing the rest of the land from them after stealing so much already.

I had high hopes for President Obama and voted for him twice. I have stood with him through thick and thin. But now I am forced as an American, to apologize to the Palestinian people for the fact that our U.S. President has abandoned a needy and subjugated people to be murdered in their homes and in their beds by Israel, and even by their using innocent Palestinian kids as Human Shields to shield the “most moral army in the world” from any resistance to the continued grave and lethal slaying of their people by Israel in their nefarious colonial quest.

It was thought for a time in the Muslim world that President Obama would finally fix U.S. foreign policy and stop supporting Israeli War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity including using children and other innocent Palestinian civilians as INDIVIDUALS as Human Shields.

But sadly, President Obama, who I have supported so fully over the years of his presidency, has failed to project U.S. power to the good and completely shut down the Israeli war machine that only exists to steal land and resources from the Palestinians and others in the region. President Obama’s failure in this regard leaves me deeply saddened and ashamed of the United States for supporting this odious Israeli regime and its use of kids as Human Shields.

To the Palestinian people: I’m sorry that President Obama supports a rogue regime that uses your children as Human Shields to protect the monstrous military machine being used against you to steal your remaining land and resources and murders your people while doing that crime – and my deepest sympathy goes out to you. I wish I could do more than just highlight the facts.

UPDATE 1 2014-07-27

President Obama, much to his credit, phoned Bibi Netanyahu on Sunday 2014-07-27 and according to a Whitehouse readout of the conversation said “the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities. The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.”

UPDATE 2 2014-08-22

Defense of Children International in Palestine has reported that Israel still currently uses children as Human Shields even in this latest War on Gaza by Israel. While Ahmad Abu Raida was 16 years-old, just before his birthday, Israel used Raida as an individual Human Shield from July 23rd to July 27th in the recent Israeli onslaught in the Gaza Strip. Ahmad Raida in sworn testimony detailed how he was forced at gunpoint after physical abuse and food deprivation to search for tunnels.

The Israelis tried to recruit Raida as an informant and interrogated him for information about Hamas even though he and his family had no affiliation with the resistance group. Raida and his family hid at home during the first days of Israel’s attack on Gaza and then tried to flee from the worsening violence. At that point he was separated from his family as the IDF took young men from their families and held them apart.

Speaking to DCI-Palestine, Ahmad said, “[The Captain and the soldiers] were walking behind me, with their rifles pointed at me. “Get in and see if there are tunnels or not,” [the Captain] ordered me. They made me search all the rooms for tunnels. Whenever I told them there were no tunnels, they would take me out and search the room themselves.”

Ahmad details an almost constant stream of abuse and threats during his detention, including kicks and punches, whips with a wire, and threats of a sexual nature. When he was left alone in a civilian house for a period, he found some note paper and wrote a secret letter to his family, believing that he would be killed. On Sunday, July 27, he was finally released. Ahmad’s father confirmed that, for five days, the family believed that he was dead.

The use of civilians as human shields, which involves forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations or using them to shield a military object or troops from attack, is prohibited under international law. The practice is also prohibited under Israeli law based on a 2005 ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice.

Israel makes general claims about Palestinian militants using Human Shields by virtue of fighters in Gaza operating in one of the most densely packed places on the planet, while the Israelis themselves use individual KIDS as Human Shields. This makes the claim that the Israeli Defense Force is the most “moral army in the world” an abuse of plain English and just plain human sensibility.

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Michael Hess

Michael Hess

I started writing and editing BBSNews in 1990. Before the 'web, back in the Bulletin Board System (BBS) days. My pursuit of factual and reality based information informs my worldview. The ever evolving BBSNews contains New Mexico news, national and international news, politics, space, foreign policy and in particular; news and facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. See our About Us page for more details.