By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 25, 2014
Does Hamas use civilians as human shields?
“Hamas is using them, Palestinians, as human shields.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, 20 July 2013
There is no dispute that Palestinian civilians tend to suffer disproportionately when the Arab-Israeli conflict boils over into violence.
At time of writing, more than 700 Palestinians have died in the latest fighting, compared to 35 on the Israeli side, 32 of them members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The lop-sided human cost of this conflict is entirely in keeping with previous outbreaks of fighting.
More than 7,500 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis have died since the outbreak of the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising) in 2000, according to the Israeli human rights information centre B’Tselem.
All of this is often used as evidence of the brutally disproportionate nature of the military action Israel periodically launches in the occupied territories.
But the Israeli military has blamed high Palestinian casualty rates in the recent fighting Gaza on Hamas, saying the Islamist group that runs the enclave has a deliberate policy of placing its own civilians in harm’s way.
Actually Hamas has made no secret of advocating the use of civilians as human shields to try to face down Israeli aggression.
A senior spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, gave an interview on Palestinian station al-Aqsa TV earlier this month.
He said: “This attests to the character of our noble, jihad-loving people – who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.
“The policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes has proven effective against the occupation… we in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy in order to protect the Palestinian homes.”
Credible reports from journalists in Gaza suggest some civilians are choosing to stay in their homes, ignoring warnings of imminent destructions that the Israeli military gives via telephone calls or empty shells “knocking on the roof”.
On the same day as Mr Abu Zuhri was broadcasting Hamas’s message, the New York Times reported the fate of a Palestinian man, Salah Kaware, who received a telephone warning that his house in Khan Younis in south east Gaza was about to be hit by the IDF.
The newspaper reported that another warning came as the occupants were leaving, when an Israeli drone fired a flare at the roof of the three-storey home. (Continued: Channel Four News)
I just wanted to tell “Mackay” that I feel his editorial cartoon in friday’s paper is very inappropriate. He is either very naive/ignorant, or very biased. With the public platform provided him by The Spec, he needs to educate himself before spouting off. Khalid Mashaal in his public conversations explains the Palestinian side, and some of the roots of the ongoing conflict. Gaza is a prison, and Israel is the jail guard. However there are obviously other opinions. As I said he needs to educate himself on the issues pro and con, and then maybe he could better express a view that is more balanced. This cartoon is a disgrace to ALL who have died over the years. Shame on you.