Even the NY Times (the NY Times!) cannot prove Israel’s justification of ‘Hamas using human shields’ for the massacre being undertaken in Gaza:
“There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack — the legal definition of a human shield under international law”
Hamas are not angels and are pretty much like every other guerilla movement fighting for liberation (e.g. the ANC and Mandela too used to bomb white civilians in South Africa, as did the Algerian FLN and various other anti-colonial liberation movements, the IRA, etc.), they use questionable tactics and although the UN did not pin-point any group specifically, leaving room to suggest it might have been other militants (Hamas have denied the allegation), it has been alleged that they have used schools to store weapons (it is of course still against international law to target civic facilities but regardless). Yet the vast majority of deaths have come from bombing residential areas and family homes, whereby in this campaign alone there have been at least 3 examples which I’ve heard of (one of them personally on a Palestine march in London) of entire families perishing in single strikes, and whereby there is countless testimony by normal civilians that their (now-destroyed) homes had no weapons inside them.
Now how can it be that an army with such advanced capacities as the IDF can be so inaccurate and can so so so consistently repeat the same ‘mistakes’ in the same offensive, yet alone from one offensive to another?! For we have literally seen the EXACT same bombing of family homes in Lebanon (infamously the two ‘Qanas’) and Gaza yet the same excuse is brought that this was a ‘mistake’, how?? I can just imagine that Israel is pissing itself laughing that people still believe these excuses that they’ve offered for exactly the same type of ‘incidents’ which are repeated every two years!! They have LITERALLY bombed children on the beach exactly before, yet people still accept when it happens this time that it is a ‘mistake?’ How is it that Israel has so often ‘mistakenly’ targeted family homes and wiped out entire families? How can such a ‘mistake’ with EXACTLY the same details be repeated this often? The answer for why these similarities occur therefore is not because it is ‘simply a mistake’ but it is the same type of outcome which will happen from routine indiscriminate bombing! (even with the now improved warning system of evacuation within 3 minutes).
This is emphasised by the fact that in this campaign alone, according to the UN more than 80% of the deaths have been civilians, not militants! The fact therefore is that this is not ‘collateral damage’ or ‘mistakes’ as the Israelis like to put it but COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT resulting from indiscriminate bombing! Hamas fires upon Israel from an extremely densely populated area where there is literally almost no open space. To ‘equalise’ the responsibility of those deaths between those dropping the bombs on one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with where Hamas stashes its weapons, is incongruous.
Incidentally, if these operations were truly about stopping the rocket fire, the best and easiest way to do so is to immediately launch a ground invasion and not spend two to three weeks launching airstrikes (testing all types of new weapons with each offensive), before finally launching a (short invasion and then retreating).
The warmonger Ariel Sharon, one of the most bloodthirsty Israeli prime ministers of all time, did not make the decision to withdraw from Gaza because he was a lover of peace, seeing that he was one of the most aggressive prime ministers Israel ever had. He made the decision to withdraw from Gaza because of the (ingenious) strategic value in doing so: a) it garnered massive support and sympathy from the int’l community, b) it allowed the replacement of settlements in Gaza with the expansion of settlements into the West Bank (ultimately seen as much more important), and c) it allowed a more effective and less costly (politically, economically and in terms of military losses) control of Gaza which would (counter-intuitively) actually strengthen Zionist militarism within Israel (one only needs to see how much more militant and right wing Israel is now as opposed to 2005). In an ingenious stroke it allowed Gaza to continue to be occupied (and more cheaply without the cost of administration) without it actually *seen* to be occupied, for the withdrawal of Israeli troops gave the impression to the majority of people that Gaza was no longer occupied – even though under international law Gaza is still considered to be under occupation because of the siege, albeit without ground troops – this point is often forgotten even by pro-Palestinians (showing how effective that strategy was).
Until today there is a reason Israel takes a long time to invade Gaza (and when it does why it never stays there too long), and that is that they made the strategic calculation that as tempting as it is to keep occupying that land (it is inherent within the expansionist nature of Zionism – and one day they might one day resuccumb to it), strategically it is more trouble than its worth to actually have troops occupying it when they can instead have a useful, restricted enemy exercising nominal authority and providing a bete noire to counterbalance against their policies, without posing too much of a practical threat (but enough to ensure fear amongst the populace). It is indeed quite genius.
It is a logical fallacy that this is all about rockets when Israel has bombed the shit out of Gaza 3 times since 2008 and in NONE of these times has it stopped rocket fire. Israel knows that the slight disadvantages (for e.g. economic) of having the threat of largely-ineffective rocket fire (especially ineffective now with the iron dome) are much smaller than the benefits of having a scared population which would allow the continued militarisation of society and ever more aggressive policies towards the Palestinians to become more acceptable to the public who feel under threat. The reason Israel launches prolonged massive airstrikes therefore, despite the fact that the vast majority of those who are killed are not militants and despite the fact that they do not stop rocket fire, is not merely to stop the rocket fire but because it seeks to *punish* the Palestinians, for if Israel truly wanted to stop rocket fire it would immediately invade the territory after it gets attacked rather than wait for such a long time (alternatively of course it would end the siege, but lets be realistic). The fact that this is not obvious actually beggars belief.
Now going back to Hamas and ‘human shields’, although they have been found to be storing weapons in civic facilities, in so far as having the accusation of them deliberately using ‘human shields’ attributed to them whereby they actually force residents to stay in target areas to hide behind (which is the legal definition of ‘human shield’), there has been no evidence for this whatsoever. Indeed, it seems obvious that if this were the case we would not have seen a massive exodus from North into South Gaza!!
In conclusion the fact is that there has been little evidence that Hamas has been engaging in using ‘human shields’ so manifestly that it can have attributed to it a major responsibility for the deaths, and this is why even pro-Israeli outlets such as the NY Times and CNN are being unable to determinatively prove that for Israel. We’ve heard the ‘human shields’ buzzline for years, and yet for years we’ve seen such little evidence for its existence (beyond a nominal level which does not suffice to equate between the responsibilities), and the vast majority of that claim has been rhetoric by the IDF.
Finally, of course there is an irony: although of course this by itself is not determinitive it is nonetheless interesting; has anyone actually ever seen footage of Hamas fighters for example hiding behind Palestinian civilians in combat? Because I have looked and failed to fine such footage (it is seen in their culture to be a cowardly thing to do), and where that has been claimed it was found to be a hoax. The irony here of course lies in that on the other hand, we have repeatedly seen videos and footage of Israel using ‘human shields’; indeed in the current conflict in Gaza it has recently surfaced that Israel has again explicitly used human shields in its current massacre in Gaza. Nor is this novel for the Zionist state; in 2005 it emerged in an Israeli court that Israel had made use of Human shields an astonishing number of 1,200 times between the years 2000-2005, and this has continued ever since, including in the form of UN reports (see here, here, here, and here; and there’s quite a bit of footage on Youtube as well).
Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Those who have their houses destroyed can throw whatever they want.