Caitlin Johnstone: Israel’s ‘Human Shields’ Lie

Israel isn’t being “forced” to kill Palestinian children, it is knowingly doing so.

March on Washington for Gaza, Jan. 13. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article. 

One aspect of the recent revelations about the IDF’s Lavender AI system that’s not getting enough consideration is the fact that it is completely devastating to the narrative that Israel has been killing so many civilians in Gaza because Hamas uses “human shields.”

If you missed this story, a major report from +972 revealed that Israel has been using an AI system called Lavender to compile kill lists of suspected members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad which have been carried out with hardly any human verification.

One automated system, psychopathically named “Where’s Daddy?” tracks suspects to their homes so that they can be killed along with their entire families. The IDF has been knowingly killing 15 to 20 civilians at a time to kill one junior Hamas operative, and up to 100 civilians at a time to take out a senior official. 

+972’s Yuval Abraham writes the following:

“Moreover, the Israeli army systematically attacked the targeted individuals while they were in their homes — usually at night while their whole families were present — rather than during the course of military activity. According to the sources, this was because, from what they regarded as an intelligence standpoint, it was easier to locate the individuals in their private houses. Additional automated systems, including one called ‘Where’s Daddy?’ also revealed here for the first time, were used specifically to track the targeted individuals and carry out bombings when they had entered their family’s residences.”

(Another +972 report by Abraham back in November revealed that IDF AI systems ensure that the Israeli military is fully aware of every child it’s going to be killing in each airstrike, and that it deliberately targets civilian infrastructure as a matter of policy.)

When questioned about these systems by +972, the IDF spokesperson responded that:

“Hamas places its operatives and military assets in the heart of the civilian population, systematically uses the civilian population as human shields, and conducts fighting from within civilian structures, including sensitive sites such as hospitals, mosques, schools and UN facilities. The IDF is bound by and acts according to international law, directing its attacks only at military targets and military operatives.”

The “human shields” narrative that’s become so popular in Israel apologia insists that the reason the IDF kills so many civilians in its attacks on Gaza is because Hamas intentionally surrounds itself with noncombatants as a strategy to make the innocent Israelis reluctant to drop bombs on them.

But as The Intercept’s Ryan Grim recently observed on Twitter, this is soundly refuted by the revelation that Israel has been intentionally waiting to target suspected Hamas members when it knows they’ll be surrounded by civilians.

“Israel’s argument that they kill so many civilians because Hamas uses ‘human shields’ is torn apart by the revelation that the IDF prefers to attack its ‘targets’ when they are at home with their families,” tweeted Grim. “It is not Hamas using human shields, it is Israel deliberately hunting families.”

“A human shield is only a shield if your enemy values human life and seeks to minimize civilian deaths,” Grim adds. “Israel deliberately maximizes the number of civilians it can kill by waiting until a target is with his entire family. Palestinians are not shields to Israel, they are all targets.”

This is such an important point. Advocates for Palestine like Abby Martin have for years been presenting compelling arguments against Israel’s “human shields” claims, and common sense shows that the presence of civilians is clearly not a deterrent to Israeli airstrikes, but because of these +972 revelations the lie has now been thoroughly, irrefutably debunked.

Civilians aren’t getting killed because Hamas hides behind them, civilians are getting killed because the IDF waits until suspected Hamas members are around civilians to target them with high-powered military explosives.

A popular quote attributed to former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir says, “Someday we may be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we will never forgive them for making us kill their children.”

You see this quote pop up all the time in varying iterations, shared approvingly by Israel apologists around the world as though it’s something wise and brilliant instead of a horrific defense of murdering children. But it turns out this morally depraved quote isn’t even true by the most generous of interpretations: Israel isn’t being “forced” to kill Palestinian children, it is knowingly choosing to.

The “human shields” narrative is just one more instance in which Israel pretends to be the victim while actually being the victimizer.

They lied about beheaded babies so that they could get away with murdering babies. They lied about mass rapes so that they could get away with committing rape. They lied about Hamas using civilians as human shields so that they could kill civilians.

They lie about being victims so that they can victimize.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

6 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Israel’s ‘Human Shields’ Lie

  1. Jackson
    April 7, 2024 at 21:34

    And yet, in Atlanta today, more unbelievably exhilarating deception. (RoughDraftAtlanta)

    “…Rabbi Ilan Feldman told the crowd:
    In Hamas, we have an enemy that despises its own people so that it uses them as human shields, hoping to increase civilian casualties so that the world will turn against Israel,” he said. “And it takes civilian hostages, women and children, uses them as bargaining chips, doesn’t follow the conventions of war in even identifying who they are. And there are voices that want to give this behavior credibility.”

    • Horatio
      April 8, 2024 at 19:31

      Rabbi’s are not in our parlance priests and holy men but, teachers. What they teach is not goodness for the common man, but goodness for Jews, the golem are not included. Accordingly, don’t expect baubles of wisdom to issue forth from these people.

  2. Charlie Birdseed
    April 6, 2024 at 20:44

    To be lied to, requires your consent and your participation.
    To be lied to, you have to be listening to the liar.
    To be lied to, you have to be giving the liar your attention.

    Make Love, Not War.
    At least while you are making love, it will only be your lover who is lying to you. Nobody else will have enough of your attention to be able to tell you lies.

  3. Charlie Birdseed
    April 6, 2024 at 20:30

    What I love is the fact that I had not heard this lie. Not a word of it. Not even a whiff. Hadn’t heard a single bit of it. That made me smile, because it told me that “turning them off” works. Israeli told a Big Lie, and I was feeding the birds or something else and did not even hear the Big Lie. I did not know this Big Lie existed.

    What if the screens told a Big Lie, but nobody was listening, nobody was watching? Could the corporations still control people’s minds if everyone turned the corporations off? All screens still do have off buttons.

    Then, I came here and the ‘alternative press’ did its assigned job which apparently is to make sure that the lies of the corporate media even reach those who refuse to consume the corporate media.

    What if the resistance found something else to talk about besides “what’s on TV?”
    Who cares what the squares think?
    Make Love, Not War
    … if nothing else, that should get people to turn off their screens for a little while, or at least switch over from cnn to different forms of porn. Maybe they’ll manage to miss a Big Lie while they are doing something else? Maybe they’ll get to experience the thrill of knowing that they have managed to completely miss out on a Big Lie.

  4. Drew Hunkins
    April 6, 2024 at 15:41

    Hamas has the right under international law to rebel using force against its occupier. “Where’s Daddy” is a sick and twisted method, straight out of the most sadistic militarist-fascists’ playbook.

    • Gypsy33
      April 8, 2024 at 17:11

      Hi Drew
      And how DARE they name their kill system “Lavender” when real, actual lavender is the herb of calmness and cleansing.

Comments are closed.