For the past four weeks, as the war has raged in Gaza, Israel has repeatedly pointed to the Hamas strategy of using civilians as human shields. Palestinian spokesmen and supporters, in turn, have insisted that it’s “racist” to accuse Palestinian terrorists of such behavior.
Diana Buttu, a longtime legal adviser to the PLO who frequently appears in the international media, was interviewed on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” on July 10. She declared: “The idea that Palestinians use their children as human shields is racist and reprehensible.”
Yousef Munayyer, executive director of a pro-Arab group called the Jerusalem Fund, appeared on “The Reid Report” on MSNBC on July 24. Referring to the human shields charge, he asserted that “there’s something fundamentally wrong and racist about that argument.”
Part of the reason that these Palestinian propagandists have been able to sow seeds of doubt concerning the human shields is that Hamas does such an effective job of intimidating journalists.
For example, several days ago, the Wall Street Journal published a photograph by Nick Casey of Hamas spokesman Mushir Al Masri using a local hospital as a backdrop to give interviews. The hospital and its patients served, in effect, as a shield for Masri to speak to reporters without being targeted by Israel. A few days after it was posted, the Journal had removed Casey’s photo from its website without explanation.
Meanwhile, a French journalist in Gaza, Radjaa Abu Dagga, published an article in the French newspaper Liberation, describing how when he was taken in for questioning by Hamas, the interrogators used a room in the Al Shifa hospital – proof that Hamas is using the hospital as a shield. But that article, too, was deleted from the Liberation web site after a short time.
But now the story is coming out, and there’s nothing that the Palestinian truth-deniers can do but yell “racist.”
Sreenivasan Jain, a courageous reporter for New Delhi Television (NDTV), posted a detailed expose on August 5, showing Hamas terrorists assembling, and then firing, a rocket right in the middle of a neighborhood filled with residential buildings and hotels. His amazing report can be seen on the NDTV website.
It’s the most graphic evidence yet of Hamas deliberately acting in, and from, civilian areas – in the hope of drawing Israeli fire that will cause civilian casualties and increase international criticism of Israel.
Now comes the most damning evidence of all – in Hamas’ own handwriting.
On August 5, the Israeli Army released copies of an official Hamas manual that it discovered in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza, where one of the fiercest battles of the war was fought.
It’s titled “Urban Warfare,” and it was produced by Hamas’s Shuja’iya Brigade.The manual includes detailed instructions on how to use the civilians of Gaza against Israel. It explains how because of Israel’s concern about civilian casualties, Hamas can use the “presence of civilians” to its military advantage. Having civilians nearby causes the Israelis “(1) Problems with opening fire; (2) Problems in controlling the civilian population during operations and afterward; (3) Assurance of supplying medical care to civilians who need it.”
The “Urban Warfare” manual also emphasizes the benefits of damage to civilian property: “The destruction of civilian homes: This increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers [the IDF] and increases their gathering [support] around the city defenders (resistance forces[i.e. Hamas]).”
Lesson twenty of the Gaza war: The “racism” lie spouted by the likes of Diana Buttu and Yousef Munayyer cannot change the inescapable truth that Hamas deliberately uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and therefore bears complete responsibility for the harm that has come to them.
Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America.