The United Nations on Wednesday passed a resolution condemning the use of civilians as human shields by terrorist groups, a strategy which is practiced frequently by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Human shield” is a legal, military, and political term denoting non-combatants who are either forced or volunteer to shield with their bodies a military target and deter the enemy from attacking it.
חודש לאחר מבצע “שומר החומות” ולאחר מאמצים גדולים של משלחת ישראל – האו”ם אימץ אסטרטגיית מאבק בטרור המגנה את השימוש הנפשע באזרחים כמגן אנושי. האו”ם גם התייחס לראשונה לטרור על רקע אנטישמי וגינה אותו.
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) July 7, 2021
Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan tweeted Wednesday: “One month after Operation Guardian of the Walls and following great efforts by the Israeli delegation – the UN has adopted a counter-terrorism strategy condemning the criminal use of civilians as human shields. The UN also addressed and condemned anti-Semitic terrorism for the first time.”
“Terrorists must not be allowed to use schools, homes, and hospitals to shield their murderous activities,” Erdan said in his speech at the UN following the adoption of the resolution, adding, “Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, and should never be explained away, justified or excused. No matter what.”
During the 1982 Lebanon War, the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh was surrounded by Israeli forces as the last stronghold of “Soldiers of Allah” terrorists who were commanded by a Muslim fundamentalist named Haj Ibrahim. Over a two-day period, Brigadier General Yitzhak Mordechai’s soldiers repeatedly announced that “whoever does not bear arms will not be harmed” and urged civilians in the camp to evacuate, but only a few did. Three delegations of prominent Sidon figures were sent to persuade Haj Ibrahim’s fighters that “their cause was hopeless, and whoever was willing to lay down his arms would be allowed to leave the camp unharmed.” None of the delegations were successful. Meanwhile, militiamen were shooting civilians who tried to escape, and in one incident, three children were riddled with bullets before their parents’ eyes because their father had dared to suggest calling an end to the fighting. Eventually, a bloody battle ensued and the IDF finally took the camp. According to a 1982 Congressional report, Israeli soldiers were attacked by PLO fighters disguised as hospital patients.
After the 2014 Gaza War, numerous reports emerged that Hamas used human shields. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay accused Hamas terrorists of violating international humanitarian law by “locating rockets within schools and hospitals, or even launching these rockets from densely populated areas.” The European Union condemned Hamas over its “calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields.” In a September 2014 interview, a Hamas official acknowledged to Associated Press that the group fired at Israel from civilian areas.