Appropriating the same logic advanced by the liberal human rights NGOs, the anti-terrorism think-tank accused Israel's enemies of human shielding. In so doing, the think-tank transformed the prohibition of using human shields into a legal and ethical justification for military necessity (Perugini and Gordon, 2015).
(8) Hence, in order to understand how the phrase operated during Israel's war on Gaza it is vital to develop a critique of human shielding that is concomitantly a critique of both military and semiotic violence.
The assumption of equality not only elides the reality on the ground, but is necessary for Israel to justify--through the human shielding argument--its destruction of Gaza within a liberal imagination.
One of the effects of the politics of human shielding is that one can no longer safely assume that the existence of masses of human bodies in civilian spaces can serve as defense against the lethal capacity of liberal hi-tech states.
Accordingly, it is not surprising that the same logic informing the production of the infographics was also used by local and international NGOs as evidence of Hamas's deliberate strategy of human shielding. Two conservative organizations, NGO Monitor and UN Watch (2014), produced, for example, a joint report attacking the United Nations and prominent human rights NGOs for their presumed incapacity to investigate in a neutral manner the 2014 Gaza war.
Accusing the enemy of using civilians as human shields changes the status of these civilians, transforming them into quasicombatants that can be killed according to the law; but it also changes the broader moral economy of war, since accusing the enemy of human shielding is a way of charging it of immoral warfare.
The politics of human shielding lays bare a fundamental political antinomy informing liberal wars.
This antinomy originates from a fundamental ambivalence constituting the politics of human shielding: human shields are in fact framed as civilians who, in specific circumstances of war, acquire a particular function (namely, shielding) and this function produces their liminal status in such a way that they come to occupy a legal threshold.