Hamas & ‘Human Shields’

Jonathan Cook takes apart the response by Jake Sullivan, U.S. national security adviser, to the savage Israel-U.S. military operation at  the Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday that massacred more than 270 Palestinians.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in 2022. (White House, Erin Scott)

By Jonathan Cook

Western politicians and journalists have hurried to dismiss the murder and maiming of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday in a savage joint Israeli-U.S. military operation to free four Israeli captives.

Not just that, they have suggested that the bloodshed was inevitable and justified given that the hostages were being held in a residential neighbourhood of Gaza.

For example, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, observed of the massacre that was actively assisted by the U.S.:

“The Palestinian people are going through sheer hell in this conflict because Hamas is operating in a way that puts them in the crossfire, that holds hostages right in the heart of crowded civilian areas.”

Apparently, Israel’s decades of belligerent military occupation of the Palestinian territories, its 17-year blockade of Gaza denying its population the essentials of life, its intermittent destruction of the enclave by “mowing the lawn” and now its carrying out of what the International Court of Justice has called a “plausible genocide” have nothing to do with the “sheer hell” the people of Gaza are suffering.

Those trying to win our consent to mass murder and the planned starvation of the people of Gaza by arguing that Hamas is using Palestinians in Gaza as human shields are engaged in the worst kind of bad-faith argument.

Let’s put back the context they are so keen to obscure:

  1. Israel has been besieging the enclave of Gaza for decades. The tiny strip of land’s population comprises mostly Palestinian refugees who were long ago ethnically cleansed from their homes in what is now Israel and confined to Gaza. Their numbers have grown hugely since, to more than 2.3 million, within tightly-delimited “borders” policed — and blockaded — by Israel. Gaza is, in a true sense of the term, a giant concentration camp.
  1. Gaza doesn’t have woods, mountains, caves in which Hamas fighters can hide or in which they can conceal their captives. It is not Afghanistan or Russia.

Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza, 2010. (Mujaddara, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

  1. Gaza is almost entirely built-up — or it was until Israel destroyed most of its buildings over the past eight months. Small areas are open agricultural land or scrubland Israel will not allow Palestinians to develop — much of that has now been destroyed too. Watching over this tiny space 24/7 are armed Israeli drones. Move outside a building and you are being surveilled. You become a potential target for an assassination by Israel.
  1. Hamas has two non-suicidal options for hiding the captives it seized in Israel on Oct. 7. Either in a building, or underground in its tunnels, which were built precisely so parts of Gaza would be out of view of a hostile Israeli military. They are the nearest Hamas has to military bases. (Let us note here another hypocrisy: Israel’s military bases are often embedded in civilian communities inside Israel. Its Defence Ministry’s headquarters, the, is in the middle of built-up Tel Aviv.)

Aerial view showing the Kirya quarter of Tel Aviv including an urban military base and a civilian neighborhood; Matcal Tower, headquarters of the Defense Ministry, circled. (Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

  1. Hiding the captives above ground is the obviously more humanitarian option, as is clear from the images of those freed at the weekend. Given many months of captivity, they are reported to be in reasonable health.
  1. After Israel’s massacre of more than 270 Palestinians at the weekend in Nuseirat camp, Hamas will now take all the hostages underground. That will be far worse for them, and it will make no difference to Israel’s wanton destruction of the buildings above. The overwhelming majority of the 70 percent of Gaza’s housing stock destroyed by Israel did not contain Israeli captives or Hamas fighters. It was targeted nonetheless because Israel’s military rampage has never been about getting the hostages back, or even about defeating Hamas, an impossible goal. It is about eradicating Gaza.

Damaged buildings in Gaza, Dec. 6, 2023. (Tasnim News Agency, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

  1. If Israel was really serious about bringing the captives home, it would be negotiating their release, not inducing a famine through an aid blockade that is starving everyone in Gaza: Hamas, Palestinian civilians and Israeli hostages alike. The real human shields are the Israeli captives, pawns being sacrificed by Israel as it pursues its bigger war aims.
  2. The truth is that Israel is waging a genocidal war on the Palestinian population to drive them out of Gaza. It needs to manufacture pretexts to avoid reaching a ceasefire deal that would bring the hostages home and bring the bloodshed to an end. The “rescue” of the Israeli captives by killing huge numbers of Palestinians provides ideal conditions for making negotiations impossible. That was the real success.
  3. The jubilation — of Israelis, and Western politicians and media, — at the carnage of Palestinians in place of a ceasefire to end the bloodshed is the real problem. By continuing to treat Palestinians as sub-human, all are enabling the genocide to continue.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021.He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog, Jonathan Cook.net  

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

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10 comments for “Hamas & ‘Human Shields’

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    June 15, 2024 at 11:10


  2. June 13, 2024 at 15:53

    From Nuseirat there have been some horrendous videos. One, from the Matar family, stress how the attackers were soldiers from America. Their 3 children are:
    1. Mo’min, 16 years old – shot in upper arm by some exploding bullet that severed off his entire arm, and you can see it
    2. Yamin, 12-years-old, killed!
    3. Ahmad, 14-years-old – speaks movingly about the American attackers coming from the aid port, I.e. instead of being used for aid it was used to kill his brother and badly hurt another. He kept calling American soldiers, “Biden’s Army” and was an amazing antiwar eye witness. I can’t stop seeing Ahmad, can you contact Al Jazeera and interview his family more and maybe help them? At least authenticate them and give them more visibility? Thank you, Consortium News.

    The grief-stricken mother spoke as well as she could, sooo sad.
    It says:
    Source: @aljazeeramubasher
    Translation: @translating_falasteen

  3. LeoSun
    June 13, 2024 at 14:59

    “The Palestinian people are going through sheer hell in this conflict because Hamas is operating in a way that puts them in the crossfire, that holds hostages right in the heart of crowded civilian areas.” JAKE SULLIVAN

    Not for nothin’; but, the Divided $tates of Corporate America “ain’t no disco; and, it ain’t no country club, either.” This is Washington D.C.’s, Jake “the Snake” Sullivan “operating in a way that” hides Biden-Harris from “the cross-fire” per Biden’s-Harris’ Board of Executioners’, Blinken, Sullivan, Miller, KJP, Kirby, Austin, Yellen, Garland, Myorkas, Thomas-Greenfield, Woods, MIC, CIA, FBI, DoJ, Congress’, deception, destruction, death, from sea to shining sea, “their” war on animal, plant & human life.

    imo, like *“Kill, first. Think, later,” hate & war is the currency; &, POTUS’ slurring, shuffling, freezing, perverted story telling has become endemic in POTUS’ Divided $tates of Corporate America.

    POTUS, Joey R. Biden aka“an elderly man w/a poor memory,” is capable of some degree of communication, i.e., “She know long! She knew suhlongasuhijeruhhnied, our freedom can never be secured,” Joey R. Biden, 6.11.24;

    AND, Joey R. Biden, “an elderly man w/a poor memory,” is able to perform certain tasks, UNDER, 24/7, supervision, w/work-arounds, i.e., taking the “short” steps into AF-1, wearing “fancy footwear” (boats) to keep him afloat, on the ground; &, a pair of Aviator sunglasses, to cover-up his cold, dark, empty, glazed over eyeballs. POTUS’ keepers, now escort POTUS to Marine One. Totally ignore “the elderly man w/a poor memory,” trying so nonchalantly to “hide” the miserably aged geezer politician’s” shuffle, from everyone!!! AND, w/arms locked, weapons cocked, bombs to be dropped, Israel & the USG “continue to treat Palestinians as sub-human.” And, YES, the USG is “enabling the genocide to continue!” It’s f/f.u.b.a.r!!!

    “The only thing we have to fear, is reality, itself.” Imo, Palestine, is NOT alone. Julian Assange is NOT alone. “We” the people, of the Divided $tates of Corporate America fka USA, too, are so f/screwed!!!

    What’s Next?!?

    * “Joe Biden owns this.” Andrew Mitrovica @ Al Jazeera dot com, 10.19.23

  4. June 13, 2024 at 14:06

    The single greatest deception in the Mideast is the fact that, other having stolen the name, 1948 Israel is NOT in any way, shape or form related to Biblical Israel! Get that understood and the Mideast makes sense.

    It doesn’t take much effort to learn Biblical Israel is today found in White Anglo-Saxon Christianity, while “1948 Israel” is nothing more than a Khazarian mafia, with apologies to the Italian mafia.

  5. Attilio Moro
    June 13, 2024 at 12:17

    Excellent commentary, journalism as it ought to be, ethical search for truth. Attila

  6. Attilio Moro
    June 13, 2024 at 12:11

    The West is doomed, politically and morally bankrupt. United Sates and Israel will be the first to collapse. That makes them more reckless and dangerous ….Attila

  7. June 13, 2024 at 11:27

    Incredibly fine explanation. Cause me to finally cut loose with a double sawbuck for Consortium.

  8. Richard Burrill
    June 13, 2024 at 10:14

    Jake is a snake!

  9. Sally the Plumber
    June 13, 2024 at 08:29

    We are all the real human shields.
    When a human shield, its good to know how to duck.
    Free Palestine
    Free America

  10. Sally the Plumber
    June 13, 2024 at 07:58

    I received my Democrat primary ballot today. In my state, they vote by mail, and as a registered Independent, I get both party primary ballots and can choose which I want to return. In the Democratic Party tradition, there is only one name per office on the Democratic ballot. Been that way for the last couple of elections now. The Democratic Party officials have chosen which hardline, Support-The-President, Four-More-Years, Democrat that I can choose to support.

    I can see why the people who run the Democratic Party prefer it this way, no messy voters messing up their appointments to high office, but this is not what Democracy looks like.

    If you believe the USA is a democracy, then believing that Hamas uses “human shields” is easy.

Comments are closed.