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.
- Human shileds
- urban warfare
- social media
- principle of distinction
- international humanitarian law