Dershowitz: Under US Law, Hizballah Responsible For Civilian Deaths Just As Criminals Responsible For Hostage Deaths In Police Raid
August 8, 2006

New York – The noted Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, has pointed out that US citizens should be made aware of the fact that, under US law, the terrorist group Hizballah would be responsible for and charged with any deaths suffered by civilians whom they are using as human shields as would be any criminal using hostages who are killed in a police raid. Dershowitz writes, “A bank robber who takes a teller hostage and fires at police from behind his human shield is guilty of murder if they, in an effort to stop the robber from shooting, accidentally kill the hostage. The same should be true of terrorists who use civilians as shields from behind whom they fire their rockets?” (Wall Street Journal, July 19). Additionally, “Under the law, criminals who use human shields are responsible for the deaths of the shields, even if the bullet that kills them came from the gun of a policeman.” (Jerusalem Post, July 22).

Dershowitz added, that, to make matters worse, ” Hizballah was preventing civilians — who had been repeatedly warned by Israel to leave the battle zone — from moving out of harm’s way. Hizballah sympathizers were shown on TV defiantly tearing up the Israeli leaflets, as if to say ‘we’re staying’ Hizballah had refused to build bomb shelters for ordinary civilians — only for their own leaders. Hizballah knew (and Israel didn’t) that children were in the so-called safe house. That is why it deliberately used the safe house as a shield behind which to fire rockets at Israel. Hizballah used its rocket launchers as ‘bait’ to induce Israel to fire at them in order to increase the chances that Israel’s rocket would misfire and hit the ‘safe house’. It was a perfect plan. Leaders of Hizballah knew it could count on the international community to finish its dirty work by condemning Israel, rather than Hezbollah for the deaths caused deliberately by Hizballah” (FrontPage, August 1).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “As Alan Dershowitz says, American law clearly holds the bank robber who brings about the death of his hostage by using him as a human shield responsible for murder. It does not hold the policeman who inadvertently killed a hostage responsible for murder or for any lesser crime. The same clear logic should apply to Hizballah’s use of Lebanese civilians as human shields. It is not also against US law, but Hizballah’s basing of its forces, rocket launchers and munitions in civilian homes and apartment buildings are also clearly war crimes under Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Convention, Article 51(7).

“The neglect and silence over Hizballah’s war crime of using human shields is not only morally indefensible but it also harms both Israel and the United States in their war on Islamist terrorist organizations. It assists terrorists throughout the world because it encourages and rewards Hizballah’s use of this evil tactic and war crime. If the upshot of Hizballah’s use of Lebanese civilians as human shields is that Israel is condemned and inhibited in its military campaign as a result, then terrorists everywhere have won a great victory and have every incentive to use this tactic again and again. The net result of this can only be the use of more human shields and thus the deaths of more innocent civilians.”

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