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Gaza

A child stands amid the bombed ruins of an apartment in Gaza City following Israeli air and artillery strikes on May 29, 2021. (Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ Majority World/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Accusations of 'Human Shields' Have Become an Excuse for War Crimes

There is a growing realization that U.S. support for Israel is hampering U.S. diplomacy.

Stephen Zunes

 by The Progressive

From photos of dead Palestinian children on the front page of The New York Times to gripping accounts of people digging through the wreckage of high-rise apartment complexes and office buildings, evidence of last month’s horrific death toll from Israel’s eleven-day bombing campaign was hard to deny.

Yet those defending the devastating military offensive are insisting that somehow Israel is not at fault for such massive destruction of the civilian infrastructure. Rather, they argue, it is actually the fault of the Palestinians themselves, specifically their use of “human shields.” 

"What neither Republican nor Democratic leaders have acknowledged, however, is that even if a terrorist group was using human shields in the narrower legal definition of the term, it still does not absolve armed forces from their obligation to avoid civilian casualties."


© 2021 The Progressive
Stephen Zunes

Stephen Zunes

Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

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