In Human Rights, International, Middle East

On February 13, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz took a break from destroying Germany’s “dramatically bad” economy, and spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During their conversation, Trudeau regurgitated the oft-repeated claim that Hamas uses Gaza’s civilians as “human shields”.

Western leaders are Israel's human shields

As citizens of a country that is enabling Israel’s genocide, it behooves Canadians to ask: who are the true ‘human shields’ in this crime scene?

Are ‘human shields’ worthless?

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields’. Could this possibly justify Israel’s mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians who are trapped in areas from which Hamas allegedly operates?

I invite you to contemplate this question in a hypothetical scenario that is closer to home.

Imagine that a gang of armed murderers burst into a crowded public square in your own community, and then gunned down innocent civilians. Imagine further that these same criminals then forced hundreds of passers-by, at gun-point, to form a circle around them to shield themselves from the onslaught of a heavily-armed police SWAT team called to the scene.

What would you say if that SWAT team sprayed the entire throng with bullets, killing scores of children and innocent adults, along with the murderers who had forced innocent passers-by to act as human shields?

Would you congratulate the police on a job well-done?

Would you bestow medals of commendation upon them?

Would you characterize their indiscriminate slaughter as legitimate ‘self-defence’?

How would you feel if one of the dead ‘human shields’ was your child, or your parent, or a dear friend?

No person of conscience would countenance such savagery. In any civilized society, the police officers responsible for this barbarism would be summarily dismissed, charged with murder and sentenced to long prison sentences.

Similarly, even if Israel is justified in accusing Hamas of using Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields’, Israel has no justification for killing tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

What Israel is doing to the children, women and unarmed men of Gaza is a crime of unspeakable proportions, whatever the sins of Hamas may be.

Is Hamas using Palestinians as ‘human shields’?

The allegation that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields appears to be based on the fact that Hamas fighters operate from tunnels lying under parts of Gaza that are densely populated by Palestinian civilians.

A Washington Post op-ed published one month into Israel’s genocidal rampage made precisely that argument:

Hamas’s deliberate use of Palestinian civilians to try to block its weapons and fighters from Israeli attack is emerging as a central dilemma in the West’s debate about the Israel-Gaza war.

Look no further than the massive response to a cartoon published by The Post last week, which has now been removed amid accusations of bigotry. It depicted a man labeled “Hamas,” with a woman and children tied to him, standing beside a Palestinian flag and saying, “How dare Israel attack civilians.” According to The Post, many readers attacked the cartoon “both for its message” — that is, its critique of Hamas’s use of human shields — “and the exaggerated features of its Palestinian subjects.”

But Hamas does use civilians as shields, and it is crucial to understand that fact. As a Nov. 5 Post editorial observed, the group “has consciously exposed noncombatants to danger by provoking Israel militarily — while protecting its own leaders and fighters in tunnels.”

What the Post’s argument ignores is that, as a practical matter, there’s no other way for Palestinians in Gaza to mount effective armed resistance – as is their right – against their barbaric oppressor. Without the extensive tunnel network Palestinians have constructed in Gaza, armed resistance would be impossible.

The Gaza Strip is 41 kilometres long, from 6 to 12 km wide, and has a total area of 365 km2. With approximately 2.3 million Palestinian inhabitants, Gaza has one of the world’s highest population densities. One million Palestinian children are trapped – thanks to Israel – within the Strip’s suffocating confines.

Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison.

Moreover, Gaza is surrounded by a hyper-militarized ‘security’ wall, replete with watch towers, snipers, constant electronic surveillance and robotic vehicles armed with machine guns. Any Palestinian approaching that wall invites dismemberment and death, as thousands of unarmed Palestinians learned during the Great March of Return.

Israel possesses one of the world’s most formidable arsenals, including combat aircraft, armed drones, 2,000-pound ‘bunker buster’ bombs, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, attack helicopters and advanced air defence systems.

Palestinian militants possess no such weapons.

Of course, Palestinian militants can and must take reasonable measures to reduce the risk to all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, but if they were to operate exclusively from the few open areas of Gaza that are adjacent to Israel’s security wall, they would be annihilated instantly.

Therefore, insisting that Palestinian militants operate above ground, and only from the uninhabited areas that are adjacent to Israel’s security wall, is equivalent to a demand that they commit collective suicide.

Today, no one condemns the legendary fighters of the Warsaw ghetto for having fought in areas where there were high concentrations of Jewish civilians. The West has no right to hold Palestinian combatants to a different standard than it applies to the combatants of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

A pretext for genocide

Whatever one may think of the tactics employed by Hamas or other militant groups operating in Gaza, Israel’s mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians cannot be justified.

Yet, that is what Israel’s ‘human shields’ allegation is designed to do: its purpose is to transfer responsibility for the annihilation of Palestinian civilians from the agent of their destruction (Israel) to the militants in their midst who are resisting Israel’s oppression.

By regurgitating Israel’s propaganda, Justin Trudeau and other Western leaders reinforce Israel’s pretext for committing genocide.

In so doing, they have reduced themselves to Israel’s human shields.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Laurel Thompson

    Yet another sign that our prime minister does not see that he is being played by the Israelis. If he thinks that the slaughter of Palestinians is justified by what Hamas did he has swallowed their propaganda. If he knows it is not justified but he supports it anyway he has become a killer just like them.Either way,they are making him do what they want.I hope the lawyers come after him.

  • Gregory Gillis

    Sadly, international leaders like Trudeau, Biden, Sunak, and Scholz seem able to avoid any real sanction. Why are they not charged by the International Court of Justice as aiders and abetters in this genocide along with the CEOs of the arms manufacturers Boeing, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman and all the other merchants of death.

  • Terry Lawrence

    Trudeau, Scholz, Biden, Von der Lying and their ilk are racist and fascist to their hypocritical cores. Like the late unlamented Navalny they believe one European is “worth” hundreds or thousands of “subhumans”, be they Palestinians, Russians, Africans,, Arabs, or Chinese. The Canadian school system tried to indoctrinate me in all this British imperial hubris in the 1950’s. The “White man’s burden” to “raise up the :inferior races” in the countries Britain and and other imperialist powers colonized even if we had to kill most of them in the process. Which we did, sometimes by the millions like in Korea and Vietnam, sometimes one native residential school child at a time like in Canada.

  • Lorna Hillman

    Why should we believe anything Israel says about Hamas or the Palestinians; they’ve been lying for decades and have no respect for international law, unless it’s in their favour which it never is. Trudeau and the rest of the colonial gang of mobsters are useful idiots to once again remind us of why the international geopolitical situation is so messed up.

  • Eric Peter

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, living proof that Germany has become USA’s 51st state… with all the war baggage that it entails.

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