The Politics of Human Shielding: On the Resignification of Space and the constitution of civilians as shields in liberal wars

Nicola Perugini, Neve Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we use Israel/Palestine as a case study to examine the politics of human shielding, while focusing on the epistemic and political operations through which the deployment of the legal category of human shield legitimizes the use of lethal force. After offering a concise genealogy of human shields in international law, we examine the way Israel used the concept in the 2014 Gaza war by analyzing a series of infographics spread by the IDF on social media. Exposing the connection between the re-signification of space and the constitution of a civilian as a shield, we maintain that the infographics are part of a broader apparatus of discrimination deployed by Israel to frame its violence post hoc in order to claim that this violence was utilized in accordance with international law. We conclude by arguing that the relatively recent appearance of human shields highlights the manifestation of a contemporary political antinomy: human shields have to continue to be considered protected civilians, but since they are considered an integral part of the hostilities they are transformed into killable subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-187
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Volume34
Issue number1
Early online date28 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Human shileds
  • civilian
  • urban warfare
  • social media
  • principle of distinction
  • international humanitarian law
  • Israel
  • Palestine

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