How Israel Used Its Own Civilians as Human Shields While Assaulting Gaza

Throughout the ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, perhaps no phrase has featured as prominently or persistently in the lexicon of Israeli propaganda as “human shields.” Repeated in stentorian fashion by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a heavily regimented army of 10,000 public relations flacks, the phrase has been ruthlessly deployed to shield Israel from responsibility for the bloodbath it has caused in Gaza. Israel has killed 1,800 civilians in a matter of weeks, including some 430 children, but it was Hamas that forced them to do it.

Like so many Zionist accusations against Palestinian society (“They only understand force,” “They teach their children to hate,” “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”) the human shields slander is a projection. Israel is the most militarized society on earth, with soldiers and military installations honeycombed throughout its civil society. With full military conscription for all men and women and reserve duty required for all Jews until they reach their 40s, Jewish Israelis alternate constantly between the role of civilian and soldier, blurring the line between the two.

Within one of Tel Aviv’s most densely populated neighborhoods sits Ha’Kirya, the army’s

headquarters, a gigantic complex of monolithic buildings that house the offices where attacks on Gaza are planned. The uniformed officers and soldiers who work inside take lunch in the cafes and shop in the malls surrounding their offices, embedding themselves among the civilian population. A military base is nestled in the middle of the campus of Haifa University while Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities offer military officers free tuition, encouraging their enrollment and allowing them to carry weapons on campus. It is hard to find a henhouse, flophouse, or fieldhouse anywhere in Israel without some kind of military presence.

In an editorial for the Israeli daily, Yedioth Aharonot, veteran Israeli military advisor Giora Eiland argued in favor of collectively punishing Gaza’s civilian population. “In order to guarantee our interests versus the other side’s demands, we must avoid the artificial, wrong and dangerous distinction between the Hamas people, who are ‘the bad guys,’ and Gaza’s residents, which are allegedly ‘the good guys.’”

Naturally, Eiland failed to consider the terrible implications of eliminating the distinction between civilians and the armed factions that move among them: If his logic were inverted to apply to Israeli society, where civilians are soldiers and soldiers are civilians, almost every Jewish Israeli citizen could be considered a legitimate target.

Most vulnerable among the Jewish Israeli public are residents of the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. Many of these working class development towns and kibbutzim were planted during the 1950s in place of the Palestinians who had just been forcibly expelled. In al-Majdal Asqalan, now known as Ashkelon, Jewish immigrants from the Middle East were literally trucked in to replace the Palestinians who had been held within a barbed wire enclosure before being outcasted to Gaza. Today, these largely neglected communities form a human wall against the demographic threat tucked behind a high-tech cordon sanitaire just to their south.

Not only do Israel’s southern communities exist under the threat of rocket and mortar attacks from those they displaced, they are routinely used as shelters and temporary bases by the Israeli army.

Renan Raz, a 26-year-old waiter and anti-occupation activist now living in Tel Aviv, remembers the anguish he experienced when the army arrived in Dorot, the southern kibbutz where he was born and raised. It was the height of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli assault that left over 1400 Palestinian Gazans dead, mostly civilians, between December 2008 and January 2009.

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  • Daniel Yagolkowski

    If Israel is a militarized society it is because since it was born has been under attack and she had to prevail (as she did, because she never had the chance of living in peace). The note is misleading and immoral: where are the human shields Israel uses? All of her buildings and urban areas have always been targets for Hamas and its murderers, abler to kill unarmed Israeli civilians than to face Israeli regular troops. I do not know who the writer of this note is but, obviously, is completely biased against Israel and full of blatant lies: the “human shields” mentioned here never appear and the writer says that the center of the Army is in a densely populated area of Tel Aviv. ¿What about, then, the Pentagon, for example, or CIA’ headwuarters or MI6? Besides, all of the towns, near tge Gaza strip would be better if Israel recovered Gaza (Judea Kingdom’s Samaria) and recovered her original territory. It is obvious that in such a small country, the exposition to attacks is greater,

    Then the note, via ominous adjectives (ruthless,stentorian…)… to say nothing starts weeping about the poor Gazans, but not a word about the fact that it was they who frrely voted for Hamas, knowing that the}s band of terrorists solely wanted to destroy Israel.

  • Shmendrake the Magician

    Herr Goebbels
    I thought you were dead. Say hi to the missus and hope the children are well.

  • mookergee

    How strange the unnamed writer forgot to mention the 7 months of rocket fire men and women and children of israel had to endure from the Terrorists in gaza. Now what nerve israel retaliates ,well tough Luck, God bless the young men and women of the IDF

  • Martyn Toohey

    ‘’Allah Gave Israel to the Jews, There’s No Palestine’’

    Sheikh Ahmad Adwan, Muslim scholar in Jordan attacks ‘Palestinians’ for distorting Koran, Jews given Israel ‘until Day of Judgement.’ (Sura 5Verse 21)

    Allah assigned Israel to the Jews until the Day of Judgement (Sura 5Verse 21), and that Jews are the inheritors of Israel (Sura 26 Verse 59).

    “I say to those who distort…the Koran:
    from where did you bring the name Palestine, you liars, you accursed, when
    Allah has already named it ‘TheHoly Land’ and
    bequeathed it to the Children of Israel until the Day of Judgment,” argued
    Adwan. “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in the Koran.”

    The sheikh had more harsh words for the “Palestinians,” calling them “the killers of children, the elderly and women” in using them as human shields in order to falsely
    accuse the Jews of targeting them. He reports having seen the same tactic used
    by “Palestinians” against the Jordanian army in the 1970s.

    “This is their habit and custom, their viciousness, their having hearts of stones towards their children, and their lying to public opinion, in order to get its support,” declared Adwan…………