Posted by: Lister | January 10, 2009

Both Sides accused of using Human Shields

The allegation is made by Amnesty:

Amnesty International said on Wednesday that both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters are endangering the lives of Palestinian civilians – including by using them as human shields.

“Our sources in Gaza report that Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “This clearly increases the risk to the Palestinian families concerned and means they are effectively being used as human shields.”

Both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen are continuing to fire at each other from areas close to civilian homes, endangering their inhabitants.

Israeli forces have bombed civilian homes and other buildings, arguing that they had been used as cover by gunmen firing at Israeli targets, although Palestinian fighters usually vacate the areas as soon as they have fired.

“The Israeli army is well-aware that Palestinian gunmen usually leave the area after having fired and that any reprisal attack against these homes will in most cases cause harm to civilians — not gunmen.”

“Fighters on both sides must not carry out attacks from civilian areas but when they do take cover behind a civilian house or building to fire it does not make that building and its civilian inhabitants a legitimate military target. Any such attacks are unlawful,” said Malcolm Smart.


Israel has been accused of using Human shields before. Back in April 07 video evidence was presented of Israeli soldiers using youths to shield them from stone throwers. A commander was suspended.

In March 07 Sameh Amira was used by Israeli soldiers in a door-to-door search. That was also caught on video.

There are other allegations also. B’tselem has a timeline and background page.



  1. Amnesty has spoken out again. AFP:

    Amnesty on Thursday accused Israeli forces of war crimes in Gaza, saying they used children as human shields and conducted wanton attacks on civilians, in a report rejected as “unbalanced” by Israel.

    The London-based human rights group also accused Hamas of war crimes, but said it found no evidence to support Israeli claims that Gaza’s Islamist rulers used civilians as human shields during Israel’s massive 22-day offensive.

    […] In numerous cases, Israeli troops forced Palestinians to stay in one room of their home while turning the rest of the house into a base and sniper position, “effectively using the families, both adults and children, as human shields and putting them at risk,” the group said.

    […] It said hundreds of civilians were killed in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons. “Others, including women and children, were shot at short range when posing no threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers,” it said.

    “Wilful killings of unarmed civilians are war crimes,” Amnesty said.

    It said Israel’s use of white phosphorus shells was also a clear breach of international law.

    White phosphorus is not illegal if used as a smokescreen in open areas “but it should not be used in a densely populated area as it was used here,” Rovera told AFP, adding that her team saw Palestinians with “hideous burns” from white phosphorus shells.

    […] The report said it found no evidence Palestinian fighters directed civilians to shield military objectives from attacks, forced them to stay in buildings used by militants, or prevented them from leaving commandeered buildings.

    But it said Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel. “Such unlawful attacks constitute war crimes and are unacceptable,” said Donatella Rovera, who led an Amnesty mission to Gaza and southern Israel.

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