Concentrated in a colonial open-air prison, Palestinians in Gaza have been peacefully protesting against the unbearable conditions that Israel has subjected them to for several months now. As a result of an ongoing occupation and total siege imposed by Israel, which regularly bombards the defenseless civil population, Gazans are suffering from malnutrition, poverty, and the lack of any human rights,
Attempting to justify its massacre of Palestinians over the last few weeks, Israel has resorted to its oft-used tactic of blaming the victims. Its primary strategy has been propaganda around so-called human shields. The fantasy that Palestinians (or Hamas, which in Israeli discourses is synonymous with all Palestinians) use other Palestinians as human shields has been a reoccurring rhetorical tool used by the Israeli government.
Writing in Al Jazeera English, Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini analyze the language and legal implications of Israel’s claims about so-called human shields. In their article, they show how Israel posthumously demonizes Palestinians, including the young medic Razan Al-Najjar who was killed by an Israeli sniper while tending to injured protesters on June 1, by tarring them as human shields:
Israel justifies its violent attacks by continuously accusing Hamas of using human shields, desperately hoping to stir moral indignation while also trying to muster a legal defence for the indefencible.
Morally, the charge intimates that the Palestinians are savages. Not unlike imagined barbaric pagans who offered their children to the gods, it suggests that the Palestinians of Gaza have no problem sending their sons and daughters to the front lines. The subtext is that civilised people protect their children while Palestinians sacrifice them.
Legally, a human shield is a civilian who is used in order to render a legitimate military target immune from attack. By accusing Hamas of deploying human shields, Israel hopes to shift the blame from the hunter to the prey, since, according to international law, the party responsible for the death of human shields is not the one killing them but the one using them.
On June 13, Human Rights Watch issued a detailed report on Israel’s violence against protesters participating in Gaza’s Great Return March, accusing Israel of committing war crimes. On the same day, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution deploring Israel’s “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” use of force against Palestinian civilians. Referring to these two documents, Gordon and Perugini argue that despite Israel’s efforts, its rhetoric around the human shield “is increasingly failing to convince.”
Read the full article here.