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July 20, 2016

'Who You Callin' a Human Shield?'

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It should not go unnoticed that a major U.S. news organization—in this case The Washington Post—used the term “human shields” in its own voice when describing the practice of an Islamic terrorist movement embedding itself among civilians and holding them hostage.

In an article headlined “Iraqi troops retake Fallujah; One of Last Havens of Islamic State; Humanitarian crisis grows as thousands flee” (June 18, 2016 in print, June 17 online), Post correspondents Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim wrote, among other things:

“There have been concerns about the plight of civilians stuck inside Fallujah. When the operation began in late May, as many as 90,000 people were believed trapped in the city, with the Islamic State holding them to use as human shields [emphasis added].”

The Post does not say who believed as many as 90,000 people were trapped in Fallujah or that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria planned to use them as human shields. However, based on past actions by the group, the description no doubt seemed probable.

Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon long have used the populations they claim to represent but daily intimidate as human shields in their “resistance” to Israel. In reporting non-combatant casualties resulting from Israeli counter-attacks against Hamas and Hezbollah, news media sometimes note Israel’s charges that the two terrorist organizations were hiding behind human shields. They have been less likely to report, in their own words and accurately, that the two Islamic fundamentalist movements did just that.

It’s worth noting Washington Post usage in this case, and keeping it mind the next time the press deals with civilian casualties among populations ruled by Hamas and Hezbollah as a result of Israeli responses to the groups’ aggressions. What’s good for ISIS ought to be good for them too.

It’s also worth recalling that using human shields, and attacking other non-combatant population from among them, is a double violation of international law and ought to be reported as such.

Posted by ER at July 20, 2016 04:47 PM

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