Footage shows a Palestinian man being used by the Israel Defense Forces as a human shield. ​

Footage shows a Palestinian man being used by the Israel Defense Forces as a human shield.

(Photo: Al Jazeera)

'A Full-Fledged War Crime': Israel Condemned Over New Human Shield Footage

"These crimes, and dozens of similar cases, require urgent intervention from the international justice system," said one human rights group.

The latest video evidence of Israel's use of Palestinians as "human shields" during combat was condemned by one human rights advocate on Monday as "horrifying but not surprising," as campaigners emphasized that the Israel Defense Forces has long used civilians in Palestine to shield their own soldiers from harm while bombarding Gaza and the West Bank.

Footage released by Al Jazeera on Sunday night showed Israeli forces attaching body cameras to handcuffed Palestinians who they had detained, dressing them in IDF uniforms, and sending them into buildings and tunnels to ensure the locations weren't rigged with explosives.

The footage presented "evidence of a systematic tactic of the army," said the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

"The leaked horrific scenes that were obtained and published by Al Jazeera reveal how the Israeli army uses civilians, including injured detainees, as human shields and forces them into hazardous combat zones after installing cameras on their bodies and binding them with rope," said Euro-Med. "Each of the aforementioned acts of criminal, brutal, and inhumane behavior constitutes a grave violation of the rules of international humanitarian law, and is a full-fledged war crime. These crimes, and dozens of similar cases, require urgent intervention from the international justice system to ensure the protection of civilians, prevent their use as human shields, and hold the Israeli political and military perpetrators."

The Israeli government has long blamed Hamas' use of "human shields" for deaths in Gaza, which now number at least 37,900, saying the group operates out of civilian infrastructure and places Palestinians in harm's way.

Journalist Dan Cohen pointed out that the IDF has used what it calls "the neighbor procedure" for decades, forcing Palestinian "messengers" to approach the homes of suspected fugitives alone and unarmed while Israeli soldiers announce over a loudspeaker that they are surrounding the building.

The procedure "is so commonplace that the military tried to justify it as a lifesaving measure in use since the 1980s," said Cohen. "The images... show the reality of this criminal practice."

In its statement on the new footage, Euro-Med detailed numerous instances in which Israel has appeared to use human shields as defined by the Geneva Conventions: "cases where persons were actually taken to military objectives in order to shield those objectives from attacks."

As Euro-Med reported:

During the Shifa Medical Complex raid in March 2024, Israeli forces used civilians, including patients and displaced individuals sheltering inside the complex, as human shields. To protect their military operations within the hospital and its vicinity, Israeli forces exploited Palestinian civilians by making them form human barriers to surround Israeli soldiers and military vehicles, or sending them under threat to residential homes and buildings to either help arrest or forcibly evacuate other civilians before army raids and the subsequent destruction of many of these buildings.


Furthermore, several families residing near the Shifa Medical Complex reported that Israeli forces arrested young men from inside the medical facility, then used them to enter the families' homes and demand that they immediately evacuate to the central and southern Strip.

The group also cited a recent example from June 22 in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, where Israeli forces placed a wounded Palestinian man on the hood of a military vehicle and drove through the Jabariya neighborhood, and "a compound and comprehensive crime" against a civilian family in Gaza City on June 27.

"A family comprising an elderly woman and her four children, including three young women and a one-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, was attacked with gunfire and bombs by Israeli forces who stormed their house in the Gaza City neighborhood of Al-Shujaiya," said the group. "They were later taken outside and detained for over three hours near Israeli tanks in a dangerous combat zone, despite the injuries they sustained in the initial attack on their home, and were used as human shields. The 65-year-old mother, identified as Safiya Hassan Musa Al-Jamal, was run over by an Israeli tank and killed in front of her son."

On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the footage released Sunday from the incident in Gaza while noting that Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir was recorded over the weekend calling for Palestinian prisoners to be executed and fed reduced food rations as a "deterrence" tactic.

Almost 10,000 Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces, including women and children, CAIR said, demanding that the U.S. end its military support for Israel.

"Israeli war crimes, and calls for more war crimes, are occurring daily in Gaza and the West Bank, while the Biden administration rushes more American bombs to Israel to complete the genocide," said CAIR communications director Ibrahim Hooper. "The U.S.-Israeli partnership in genocide, ethnic cleansing, and forced starvation will shape the international community's image of America for generations to come. The Biden administration must change course to uphold universal human rights and recognize Palestinian humanity."

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