Israel’s Human Shields Defense: Shielding Israeli War Crimes

The Israeli-Palestinian confrontation has reached the phase where no one seems to care any longer about jus in bello (justice in the course of warfare), let alone reducing the levels of brutality. Restoring trust or fidelity between the belligerents seems irrelevant to the parties concerned—the most we can hope for is restoring sanity, especially with regard to mercy and sensitivity toward human life and suffering. However, such a process requires sincere and honest efforts currently unavailable, so it seems the only way to restore a semblance of restraint is to force both sides to follow the requirements of international law. In this category I include the Geneva Conventions (and their additional protocols), the Hague Conventions, and first and foremost, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. I concern myself here with one particular example of the aggression and brutality of the conflict: the Israeli accusation that Palestinians used civilians as human shields during “Operation Protective Edge,” the Israeli military’s code name for the confrontation that raged in the summer of 2014.