The cowardice of human shields

Human shields refer to fighters who use a defenceless human being to protect them from their opponents. This is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions and it is classified as a war crime.

The most recent and public example of human shields is in Gaza, where its Hamas leadership uses civilians as human shields for its rocket launchers. The Hamas leadership then cynically uses the civilian deaths as propaganda. This is not ‘collateral’ damage but calculated and predictable. It is also cynical and cowardly. I have yet to hear a single report in the past two weeks of fighting between Gaza and Israel that describes Gaza’s human shields as a war crime. Neither the BBC nor Russia Today have said so.

This brings misery upon Gaza’s inhabitants, but its people blame Israel rather than its own leadership. One can only hope that the next long-overdue election in Gaza will result in the rejection of this heartless leadership which oversees a land where schools are named after child suicide bombers. The people of Gaza have suffered under 15 years of Hamas domination and it is time for them to waken up to their self-imposed plight.

I have not heard the democratic deficit in Gaza addressed in any discussion in the past two weeks of violence. Where was the democratic decision for Gaza to go to war against Israel? No-one even thinks of asking this question because no-one expects democratic procedures from Hamas. Am I the only person who called for a Public Inquiry by Gaza into the riots on its terrority at the 70th anniversary of Israel’s re-birth as a nation, which led to the death of Hamas operatives? Does no-one else expect civil leadership by Gaza’s administration? Does everyone know that it is so beyond the pale that they neither expect it nor call for it? What hope then for the civilian population of Gaza under such inhumane leadership?

The cowardice of violence and civil war

Civil war creates civilian casualities and it is often these civilian casualties that force governments to submit to the demands of the belligerents. This was the case with the IRA in Northern Ireland and with the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is also the case in Africa where isolated ISIS fighters terrorise unarmed civilians as ‘easy targets’ to make their point and maintain their hegemony. This is cowardice and these dismal ‘fighters’ hiding behind weapons are not worthy of the name of fighter and should be renamed cowards, too frightened to fight in the open so they hide behind women and children or use them to achieve their ends. For such, the rules of warfare are meaningless.

The cowardly genre

Ultimately such cowardice demonstrates the frustration of those who cannot win an argument. It is true that some governments will not listen to the concerns of its populace, but many civil rights leaders knew how to use non-violent protest to effect change, such as Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

The cowardice of guerilla warfare

Guerilla warfare is not necessarily cowardly, but it depends upon the leaders. Guerilla fighter Nelson Mandela turned from violence to negotiation, from the bullet to the ballot, to such an extent that he helped the transition from apartheid South Africa and received the accolade of being voted President of his country. It is evident that it is leadership that defines the governance in a country.

Cowardly fighters and cowardly leaders

Hitler’s refusal to surrender led to much human misery as the fighting for Berlin went from street to street affecting the civilian population. Some people do not know when enough is enough. Their intransigence is at other people’s expense.

Jaw, jaw is better than war, war

Winston Churchill said that “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war” but many people have still to learn this lesson from the Second World War leader who knew plenty about war.

The pen is mightier than the sword

Why do aggressive and violent people not take on board this well-known sentiment? which presumably exists because of the truth within it. Jesus said: “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” Mat 26:52. Violent behaviour breeds violent reprisals.

Violence works but it is shameful

Governments pretend to hold out against violence, but fail to do so, thus shouting and bawling is the new norm. Public demonstrations are now disruptive of civil life, such as Extinction Rebellion and the iconoclasm of pulling down statues. How long will it take before civil strife arrives on the streets of the UK where disrupters are discovering that there are not enough police to keep law and order, far less courts and sanctions to deal with aggression and violence. Already violent confrontations by Palestinian supporters are taking place in London and elsewhere.

When will the world learn what Jesus taught? “They are blind leaders of the blind.”


23 Jul 2021: after almost 50 years, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games commemorated the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian gunmen at the Munich Olympics in 1972 with a one-minute silence, the first time in 50 years. It is a good reminder, witnessed by billions of people around the world, the result of a long campaign by the widows.

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