This is my third post on that alternate reality in which Israel gets to demonize Palestinians and Lebanese for allegedly using civilians as human shields - allegations that don't stand up too well under scrutiny - knowing all the time that its own army has a well-documented and ongoing policy of using Palestinian civilians as human shields for IDF military operations in the Occupied Territories.
I don't have anything new to say about the absurdity of Israel's position on this, but I'm posting new incidents as they are captured on film, with the intention of eventually consolidating them into a comprehensive post on the subject. I have documented earlier incidents in posts here and here.
The most recent incident involves Israeli soldiers forcing two youths to stand in front of their armored vehicle to protect it from stone-throwers, during an arrest operation in Nablus on 11 April 2007. (Hat tip, vittorio. Grazie!).
Photos: Research Journalism Initiative, via YNet.
The incident was reported at the time by the Palestinian Maan News Agency, by al-Jazeera, and by Israel's YNet, but unsurprisingly didn't make many headlines this side of the pond. Fortunately, it was caught on film by an American volunteer at An-Najah University, and thanks to the wonders of YouTube Americans can after all see the stark reality of what exactly their tax dollars are subsiding:
All of which brings to mind Prof. Juan Cole's suggestion that the most effective aid we could send to the Palestinians is not guns, but 10,000 camcorders.
The Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, reports that Sameh Amira was actually one of three people used as human shield by Israeli soldiers that day (8 March 2007), the other two being a 15-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl:
Testimonies taken by B'Tselem reveal that during the army's operation in Nablus in late February, soldiers used two Palestinian children, a fifteen-year-old boy and a eleven-year-old girl, and a twenty-four-year old man as human shields....
...According to the testimonies, on the first day of the operation, around five o'clock in the morning, soldiers came to the house of the 'Amirah family, in the Old City, and removed all the occupants from the house and took them to a nearby house, where other Palestinians were also being held. Then the soldiers ordered one of the family, 15-year old 'Amid to accompany them in their search of three other houses. According to 'Amid's testimony, the soldiers pushed him with the barrels of their rifles and forced him to enter rooms of the house in front of them, open cabinets and empty out the contents, and open windows. In one instance, according to the testimony, a soldier shot several shots into the room.
Other soldiers took 'Amid's cousin, Samah 'Amirah, 24, and used him as a human shield in a similar fashion. Part of this incident was recorded on by AP television cameras and broadcast both on Israeli television and abroad. 'Amirah was forced to enter every room in his house, while soldiers followed him. Afterwards a soldier would shoot a round of bullets into each room.
In another incident, which took place on the morning of 28 February, also in the Old City , soldiers took control of the Dadush family house and locked the six members of the family in one room of the house. Throughout the day, soldiers interrogated all of the members of the family about the location of armed Palestinians who fired at soldiers in the area during the operation. Around eight o'clock at night, soldiers forced eleven-year old Jihan Dadush to lead them twice to one of the adjacent houses that she had mentioned to the soldiers in response to their questions. The second time, when they arrived at the house, the soldiers forced her to open the door and enter in front of them. After combing the inside of the house, the soldiers returned her to her house. In her testimony to B'Tselem, Jihan said that after the soldiers left, "I was shaking with fear. I was afraid they would kill me or put me in jail. The only thing I wanted to do was sleep… I am afraid that the soldiers will come back and take me."
The picture that emerges from the testimonies, and particularly the description of the firing into the rooms in the testimonies of 'Amid and Samach 'Amirah, indicate that the soldiers feared the houses they searched hid armed militants or that explosives had been planted in them. In other words, the mission the two minors and the adult were forced to conduct undoubtedly included an element of danger and it seems clear that the soldiers were aware of this.
In its letter to the Judge Advocate General, B'Tselem pointed out that this was the fourth time since June 2006 (when "Operation Summer Rains," in Gaza , took place), that the organization had documented Israeli soldiers' use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. As far as B'Tselem knows, in only one of these cases did the JAG order a Military Police investigation. That investigation has not yet been completed...
"The most moral army in the world", my arse.
Update, 3 Aug 08: I have consolidated my various posts on the subjects of Israel's use of Palestinian civilians as human shields into a single post, here.