March 18, 2019 | FDD's Foreign Podicy

In the Line of Fire: Human Shields

Episode 33
March 18, 2019 | FDD's Foreign Podicy

In the Line of Fire: Human Shields

Episode 33


About the episode

War is always going to be hell, but the laws of war are intended to make conflicts a little less hellish.

With that in mind, Congress recently passed—and the president signed—critical new legislation against the use of human shields: pushing civilians into the line of fire to protect combatants. But more remains to be done.

To discuss this life and death topic,  host Cliff May is joined by FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz and FDD Senior Fellow Professor Orde Kittrie—who have been working long and hard to counter what Ambassador Nikki Haley called the “most cowardly act you can imagine.”

Masked Palestinian Hamas militants gather with children in the Gaza Strip to prepare a homemade rocket, known as Al-Battar, to fire at Israeli targets. (Getty Images)

Episode highlights

Professor Orde Kittrie

On designating Hamas

“The U.S. should start designating Hamas leaders for their use of human shields. This would help counter the narrative of Hamas and its allies, including by demonstrating that Hamas’s leaders are war criminals and by helping educate the media and public about the use of human shields.”

On NATO allies prohibiting the use of human shields

“It’s sort of shocking when you look at it that half the member states of NATO do not have implemented the international legal prohibition on human shields. They don’t have it in their domestic law. They don’t have it in their military manual. The U.S. has a clear legal prohibition in our statute on the use of human shields. It’s also all over our military manual. […] Certainly our NATO allies ought to have the same prohibitions as well.”

Mark Dubowitz

On terrorist use of human shields

“Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza really created this weapon of war — or certainly have perfected it, particularly in the modern era. But they have also taught terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIS and the Taliban to use this tactic against the United States, against the Brits, the French, members of NATO who have been fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq and around the world.”

On Hezbollah

“Today, about one-third of all Lebanese Shiites are currently being held hostage and used as human shields — roughly five hundred thousand men, women, and children are being used by Hezbollah as human shields today in villages all over Lebanon, predominantly southern Lebanon.”

On human shields as a tool to wage information warfare

“Imagine if the response from the international community when a Hamas spokesman goes on CNN is: ‘Can you explain why you’re using women and children at the Gaza Israel border as human shields? You are guilty of war crimes, sir.’ Would Hamas and Hezbollah be using this tactic as often as they do? Would al-Qaeda and ISIS and the Taliban be copying this tactic? I would contend, Cliff, they wouldn’t. Because it wouldn’t be working.”

“But as long as it works — as long as the response on an international broadcast is: ‘Well, then Israel must be guilty of war crimes’ — then Sinwar and Nasrallah — the head of Hezbollah — and other terrorist leaders are going to continue to use this tactic because it works. It is a form of information warfare, and it is absolutely working for them. And more civilians are going to die as a result.”


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