Because terrorists use human shields to protect themselves or cause civilian casualties “without facing consequences,” it is imperative that “terrorists and their sponsoring regimes must be held accountable for their brutal practice of using civilians as human shields,” argued two experts.
Because terrorists use human shields to protect themselves or cause civilian casualties “without facing consequences,” it is imperative that “terrorists and their sponsoring regimes must be held accountable for their brutal practice of using civilians as human shields,” argued two experts in an op-ed published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.
In their op-ed, Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), and Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at FDD, recounted several notorious cases of terrorists using human shields to achieve immunity, or cause civilian casualties in a cynical effort to damage the image of those fighting them.
Two years ago, as ISIS fighters fled from Manbij, Syria put civilians into every one of the vehicles in their convoy deterring any attacks by United States forces.
Hezbollah, they noted, had been in accused in its 2006 war with Israel of hiding “among women and children,” and, more recently, has been reported as hiding its arsenal among civilian homes.
Most recently Hamas leaders orchestrated what they called a “March of Return” in which they exploited “the bodies of our women and children,” in the words of Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar, to protect its fighters as they attempted to infiltrate Israel. Though Salah Bawdawil, another official of the terrorist group. later admitted that most of those killed by Israel were indeed members of Hamas, Dubowitz and Kittrie observed, “the television images had already done the intended damage to Israel’s reputation.”
The remedy, Dubowitz and Kittrie argue, is the imposition of “sanctions for using human shields.” While they criticize Europe for moral relativism, they noted that “war crimes still are taken seriously in Europe.” Designating terrorists who use human shields as war criminals “could lead to prosecution in European courts and counter false claims that Western democracies are to blame for harm to these civilians.”
Dubowitz and Kittrie acknowledge that the “price of decency” as practiced by the U.S. and Israel in making every effort to minimize civilian casualties means that they are “fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.” However, by targeting terrorists who use human shields “would save civilian lives and give democracies the freedom to fight without both hands tied behind their back.”