Cruz Bill Would Sanction Terrorists for Using Human Shields – By Jenna Lifhits (weeklystandard.com) / July 24 2018
A demonstrator holds a placard reading “Hamas, stop using children as human shields” during a counter demonstration against Al-Quds Day, in Berlin.
ADAM BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
Legislation names Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram as examples.
Senators are mounting a bipartisan effort to hold terrorist groups accountable for their use of human shields, a tactic exploited especially by Hezbollah and Hamas, according to legislation to be introduced Tuesday.
The bill, led by Texas senator Ted Cruz, enables the Trump administration to sanction members of foreign terrorist organizations that use civilians to shield themselves from attack. Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram are among the designated terror groups that could be targeted under the newly introduced measure.
“Terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have found ever-more cynical ways to hide behind human shields in their wars against Israel, and they have been rewarded for it by the United Nations, which consistently blames Israel for any resulting civilian casualties,” said Cruz. “It’s no wonder that Hamas puts its rocket launchers in schools and hospitals, or that Hezbollah has transformed hundreds of Lebanese villages and towns into military depots. Our troops have had to confront similar tactics when fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS.”
“This legislation will impose costs and increase accountability for these practices,” he said. Indiana senator Joe Donnelly, Massachusetts senator Ed Markey, and Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal are among the Democrats who back the bill. It continued to pick up co-sponsors as it was filed Tuesday.
Under the legislation, those who use human shields could be blocked from any property they may have in America, denied entry to the U.S., and have any current visa revoked. The measure also encourages the U.S. to secure support for a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemns the use of human shields and imposes multilateral sanctions against terrorist organizations for their use, among other conditions.
If passed, Tuesday’s bill would “be the first U.S. law authorizing the president to impose sanctions on persons involved with the use of human shields,” said Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a law professor at Arizona State University.
“While the U.S., its allies, and even the United Nations have occasionally broadly condemned terrorist use of human shields, specific terrorist groups and their leaders have not been sanctioned, prosecuted, or otherwise held accountable,” said Kittrie. “This has encouraged several terrorist groups to repeatedly use human shields to put law-abiding armed forces, including those of the United States and its allies including Israel, to a choice of either refraining from attack or risking being blamed for resulting civilian casualties.”
Hamas and Hezbollah both launch attacks from densely populated areas “in order to shield such positions from attack,” per the bill. Another Hamas tactic: “encouraging or forcing Palestinian civilians to gather on the roofs of their homes to act as human shields.”
Kittrie said that the legislation could set an example for other governments and U.N. organizations to follow suit. The use of human shields is considered a violation of international law.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Christians United For Israel (CUFI) support the measure.
“Senator Cruz has introduced legislation that sanctions groups which hide behind civilians while terrorizing innocents. Tragically, for entities such as Hamas and Hezbollah this cowardice is standard operating procedure,” said Sandy Parker, chairwoman of the CUFI Action Fund. “It is unconscionable that such war crimes are not severely and unequivocally condemned and punished. The CUFI Action Fund welcomes Senator Cruz’s legislation, and will vigorously support it until it becomes law.”