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Human shield

Human shield is a military term describing the use of civilians to deter an enemy from attacking certain targets - in particular military targets. International law considers the use of human shields to protect military targets a war crime.

It may also be used to describe the use of civilians to literally shield soldiers during attacks, by forcing the civilians to march in front of the soldiers during human wave attacks. Of course the civilian casualty rate is extremely high and use of this technique is generally frowned upon. There were some instances of this in the Soviet Union during WWII.

The tactic was used by the Bosnian Serbs in 1994 and by Iraq in 1990. Some anti-war activists have voluntarily gone to target areas for this purpose, as in 2003 to Iraq, in advance of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

In the Palestinian territories, members of the International Solidarity Movement engage in various human shield activities, such as trying to physically block the destruction of Palestinian homes by Israeli bulldozers, or accompanying Palestinian children on their way to school. In these cases the protected targets are generally considered to be civilian. Rachel Corrie was killed in March 2003 in such activities.

See also

Civilian casualties

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