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from Elder Of Ziyon – Israel News.
We previously discussed how Human Rights Watch was claiming a very restrictive definition of “human shields” contrary to the clear definition given by the ICRC, to clear Hamas of that charge.
A little further research shows that not only does HRW often use the correct definition of human shieldsing for other conflicts, but it has tightened up its definition over the years for Israel’s enemies.
Here is Human Rights Watch, February 19, 2014, discussing a reported drone attack by US forces against a wedding in Yemen:
The legality of the December 12 attack hinges on both the applicable body of international law and the facts on the ground. If international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, applies to the December 12, 2013 attack, only valid military objectives such as AQAP leaders or fighters could have been lawfully targeted. The burden is on the attacker to take all feasible precautions to ensure that a target is a combatant before conducting an attack and to minimize civilian harm.
Had AQAP members deliberately joined the wedding procession to avoid attack they would have been committing the laws-of-war violation of using “human shields.”
In this case, HRW says that the terrorists merely need to purposefully place themselves around civilians. When Israel is the enemy, HRW says that the civilians must be coerced.
That wasn’t always the case. HRW tried very hard to excuse Hezbollah from the accusation of human shielding in Lebanon in 2006, but the excuses they used – feeble as they were – do not apply to Hamas in 2014:
A key element of the humanitarian law violation of shielding is intention: the purposeful use of civilians to render military objectives immune from attack.
As noted above, we documented cases where Hezbollah stored weapons inside civilian homes or fired rockets from inside populated civilian areas. At minimum, that violated the legal duty to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians the hazards of armed conflict, and in some cases it suggests the intentional use of civilians to shield against attack. However, these cases were far less numerous than Israeli officials have suggested. The handful of cases of probable shielding that we did find does not begin to account for the civilian death toll in Lebanon. (The related issue of Hezbollah’s illegally using several UN posts near the Lebanon-Israel border as shields is discussed in the next section.)
In addition to its own research, Human Rights Watch carefully reviewed …read more