Home How to Take the Human Shields out of the Equation
Home How to Take the Human Shields out of the Equation

How to Take the Human Shields out of the Equation

No one does something for no reason, that includes terrorists. An enemy force will use a tactic because it's successful. Which is why there's only way to stop them from reusing that tactic, render it a failure.

Terrorists use human shields because the strategy pays off. The enemy has identified a particular weakness in us, we have difficulty causing the deaths of civilians. That is because we're moral and value human life, and they don't. This is a strategic strength when it comes to intelligently deploying troops in a way that spare lives and reduce casualties. The use of Human Shields by terrorists however turns this strength into a weakness, when it protects the terrorists directly through hesitation allowing them to escape, or indirectly through media and public outrage when the human shields are wounded or killed.

Each time that happens, and the use of human shields is successful-- we're insuring that human shields will be used again. It's like paying ransom every time pirates seize your boats. It turns an individual crime into a profitable venture, and creates an entire industry built around it. So too when civilized countries directly or indirectly reward the use of Human Shields, it increases in scope and becomes a vast problem.

In Lebanon and Gaza, Hamas and Hizbullah built much of their defensive strategy around placing high priority targets and weapons embedded around facilities such as schools or hospitals, betting that either they would not be bombed, or that bombing them would enable them to pull off a media blitz that would force Israel to withdraw and sign an agreement. Both times their bet paid off.

Such tactics were not unprecedented, but nevertheless Hamas and Hizbullah used Human Shields as a defensive strategy on a scope and scale that demonstrated just how vital it had become. Hamas and Hizbullah understood that they could not defeat Israel on the battlefield. The one ace in their deck was the civilian population they could employ both offensively and defensively. While the US had disregarded Saddam's use of Human Shields, rendering it a virtual non-factor by Baathist forces and terrorists-- Israel failed to do so, and was rewarded with a more extensive use of Human Shields than ever.

The problem is that rewarding Human Shields strategies quickly lets terrorists know that they can use entire populations as Human Shields. The more you allow it to succeed, the larger the use of Human Shield grows, as terrorists begin using thousands to protect high value targets. The end result of failing to suppress the use of Human Shields is that soon you're dealing with entire populations turned into Human Shields.

And the only real way to put a stop to it, is to cut the Gordian Knot by never allowing Human Shields to be used as a successful strategy in the first place. Once it's already in use, only ruthlessly demonstrating that it is futile, will end it. This will unquestionably carry a severe toll in the lives of non-combatants, but in the end it spares more lives by terminating the Human Shields strategy. Only by demonstrating that the use of Human Shields will not stay our hand, will terrorists stop employing Human Shields in the first place.

President Jefferson understood that the cycle of ransom and kidnapping could only be broken by cutting through the pirate's premise, that kidnapping would result in rich rewards, rather than death. Terrorist groups who use Human Shields must get the same message, that this tactic will no longer grant them any special protection. That media outrage will make no difference and that soldiers will do their job regardless of Human Shields. Only then will terrorists begin to see Human Shields as a useless handicap, rather than as a handy defense. And only then will the use of Human Shields and the civilian death toll that results from their use, finally come to an end.


  1. Since ancient times Arab tribes(they had no lands) were pirates, highwaymen, thieves , hijackers and bandits of caravans and dealers in drugs and slaves.

    Nothing has changed in all these thousands of years.Those are still their prime ways of making money.

    Hijackers and bandits are cowardly and hide behind masks and darkness to do their evil work.
    So what can you expect for them to do but hide behind those they consider expendable.

  2. Anonymous5/2/09

    How do you stop the use of human shields anyway?

  3. It's harsh but sometimes it must be done. If the terrorists believe human shields are effective shields they'll continue to use them.

    Ironic that in the hours immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks the government made the horribly painful decision that the airforce should shoot down any suspicious planes--including civilian planes.

    BTW: the truth is now coming out about the Arab MD, Dr. El Eish who claimed the IDF fired on his house killing his three daughters. Turns out the doctor allowed Hamas to lodge in his house and that the IDF gave ample warning that the house was going to be fired on.

  4. Anonymous5/2/09

    The children as human shields was perfected into an art by the evil one himself--Arafat. During the attacks of IAF on south Lebanon's terrorists, it was alwasy a school that was hit. And then everyone will scream against Israel. So now you have the latest mini war in Gaza and you can see that even if there are no children as human shields they will make it up(UNRWA school). The western world's preocupation with children and sexuality has brought this plague on us. In my children's time no one bothered when a child left on a bus, or played in a park, or roamed for the day in the summer, today it's a different world altogether. The Arabs have taken the que (the evil is good at manipulations) and they are flogging it with gusto: see all the red smeared dolls in the leftist protests. And no, I don't think Israel can overlook this and kill the enemy, the world is breathing on our necks just waiting for an opening to delegitimeze and ultimately destroy us.

  5. "Once it's already in use, only ruthlessly demonstrating that it is futile, will end it. This will unquestionably carry a severe toll in the lives of non-combatants, but in the end it spares more lives by terminating the Human Shields strategy."

    Yes. But where will you find a leader brave enough to do it? Is there one in Israel right now? I seriously doubt it...

  6. Anonymous5/2/09

    I agree... I say fire away. But this strategy is more effective on the hearts and minds of the western world. If the global media would spend more time advertising Hamas' usage of human shields, then that would help...

    but they don't.


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