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by Ariel Natan Pasko Thursday, Nov. 20, 2003 at 8:43 PM

The International Solidarity Movement positions direct action activists as "human shields", knowingly puting people into dangerous situations - taking advantage of young naive idealists.

The Israel Defense Forces Advocate-General has ordered the military police to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of a British pro-Palestinian activist who lies clinically dead in a London hospital, after being shot by Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip last April. Tom Hurndall was shot in the head on April 11 while acting for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which positions direct action activists as "human shields" around Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - and Gaza.

The IDF has criticized ISM activists and their "human shield" activities. "It is important to keep in mind the danger posed by the illegal, irresponsible, and dangerous behavior of the ISM group that led to the tragic death and sad results," the IDF has said. The ISM knowingly puts people into dangerous situations - taking advantage of young naive idealists - it seems Hurndall might have got caught in the crossfire between IDF troops and Palestinian terrorists. My question is, where are the "human shields" for Israelis? Why not send some people to protect innocent Israelis from suicide bombers?

Israel's embassy spokesperson in London said the decision to launch the investigation was made independently and was not a response to the family's allegations that Hurndall was deliberately shot. Investigators would talk to "all elements involved in the incident," both military and civilian, she said. The IDF has already produced a field report about the shooting, which says that Hurndall approached an army position "wearing a combat uniform and carrying a weapon". But Hurndall's father Anthony has dismissed it as "a fabrication." Hurndall's parents claim he was helping Palestinian children cross a street - to get out of the line of fire - in Rafah/Rafiach, near the border with Egypt, and was clearly identifiable as an unarmed peace activist by his bright orange jacket.

Even if Hurndall's parent's facts are true, I ask you, couldn't Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists put on an orange jacket? How would IDF troops know Tom Hurndall was indeed a "human shield" and not a terrorist hiding behind Palestinian children, as they often do?

Both Hurndall's injuries and the death in Israel of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie in March, have led to calls for investigations into what pro-Palestinian activists say is a concerted campaign by the IDF to chase them away from conflict areas. Rachel Corrie was killed by an IDF bulldozer while attempting to stop it from leveling Palestinian homes in Gaza, the homes of terrorists. But again I ask, where are the "human shields" for Israelis? Why not send out some people to protect innocent Israelis from suicide bombers?

Notice all these "do goody" "human shield" types always go to trouble spots to "protect" the people there from western armies, armies from democratic countries. There were the "human shields" that went to Iraq to protect people from British and American troops -Hurndall was there - and the "human shields" that went to protect Arafat in his Ramallah compound, after the Israeli cabinet decided to "remove" him. There are the IMS "human shields" that protected the terrorists from arrest in Bethlehem last spring, and those who protect terrorists in Gaza.

I guess it's safer to be a "human shield" against the Israeli, American, or British armies, as opposed to, for example, the Chinese or Burmese armies. Where were the "human shields" at Tienamen Square? What happened to protecting human rights activist Aung San Sui Kyi in Burma, before she was arrested again? Why not go to Lebanon and protect people from the Syrian army, the most vicious occupation in the Middle East? Where were the "human shields", when the Iraqi people really needed them? When Saddam Hussein was ruling, and killing and killing and killing. Doesn't being a human shield mean exactly that, putting your life in danger?

If no one ever got killed in the "human shield" business, it wouldn't be much of a danger, would it? Who needs "shields" that complain if it gets a little dangerous? Don't get me wrong, I don't want to minimize the loss of human life, it's just that it seems to me that these "human shield" people, minimize the value of some human's lives - such as Israelis - by getting in the way of IDF activities to catch or kill Palestinian terrorist murderers. It's OK I understand to help Palestinians to "liberate" themselves, but it's not all right for Israelis to protect themselves in defensive military operations against murderers without "human shield" interference.

Maybe I'm confused. But it seems the world's media paints these "human shield" troublemakers - wherever they go - as some type of hero or made of morally better stuff. But all I see is their criminal interference in the legitimate activities of democratic governments trying to protect themselves and civilized society from the barbarians of the world.

Maybe it would be better for ISM or other groups like them, to stop and think about whom they are "protecting" and why they need protection. They should ask themselves why they would want to be the willing dupes of the likes of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Arafat. Then again, a death or two every once in a while, is good for media propaganda, and fund raising efforts, isn't it? So, why not send some "human shields" to protect a few Israelis?

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at:

(c) 2003/5764 Pasko

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