Palestinians Form Human Shield, Israelis Back Off

| Tue Nov. 21, 2006 1:59 AM EST

Hundreds of Palestinians, many of them women and children, formed a human shield around a Gaza building targetted by the Israeli military - a novel tactic that got the Jewish state to call off their planned air strike. The Israelis, as they often do, had given advance notice to the militants whose homes they were aiming to blast with missiles so that their families could be evacuated. Instead, they sent out a call for supportive protesters, at the prompting of a female Hamas activist who had also led a group of women to form human shields to help a group of trapped gunmen escape an Israeli siege earlier this month.

Now, no one can deny that Israeli military actions have killed lots of innocent Palestinian civilians, and that's a terrible thing. But this whole episode does point out a difference between them and their suicide-bombing opponents. Israel doesn't intentionally target civilians; Hamas and other Palestinian groups do. In fact, the same day that the Israelis called off their missilie attack lest it harm innocent people, Palestinian missiles fired into the town of Sderot injured three people. Is there a difference between extreme disregard for the possibility of civilian casualties as a side effect of a military strike and deliberately killing civilians? Discuss.