Note, I realize this is a topic about human shields in general, and not necessarily a discussion about Palestine/Israel, but as the OP links to content dealing with that particular conflict, I illustrate my point using the same conflict as an example.
This issue of "human shields" is Israeli propaganda and if we dissect it factually and logically, I think it is easy to come to this conclusion. The idea of "human shields" thrives on the perception that is purported by Israel and its Western sycophants that Palestinians and Muslims in general value human life less than do Israelis. Palestinians are suicidal crazies while Israelis are first world loving peaceniks thrown into war against their will.
The act of taking a "human shield" would necessitate that a Palestinian militiaman, at gunpoint, force civilians to absorb the shocks of Israeli bullets and bombs. In other words, said militiaman would have to hold hostage an entire population of Palestinians at all times of the day in order to force them to the front lines whenever an Israeli strike is imminent. This, from a logistical standpoint, is impossible. Palestinian society has multiple militias (a "free market" of militias, if you will). Any one militia that decided it was to take hostage the entire Palestinian population to stand on rooftops while Israel bombs targets from the sky would quickly find itself at odds with the militias who would decide to defend the local population. Furthermore there is no great power disparity between Palestinian militias and the local population. The maximum capacity of any force Palestinians can field is restricted mostly to RPG's and Kalashnikov rifle derivatives and these are relatively easy to obtain. Large tribal factions in Gaza are, ironically, better equipped than most Islamist militias in active conflict with Israel.
I also want people to try and understand the ridiculous nature of the claim of "human shields" by looking at the logistics of Gaza. It is an enclave of about 1.8 million and one of the most densely populated places on the planet. You can check this link for a comparison of the details:
It has a population growth rate of about 2.8% per annum, which is the 13th fastest in the world. Gaza is not a state and it has no army. It has militias whose members are recruited from the fabric of a society which has been under arbitrary Israeli authority since at least 1967 and under arbitrary Egyptian authority before that. Israel levels a siege on the territory which it has kept up since 2006. Before that, it fielded a large occupation army in order to police the population of Gaza but found the area largely uncontrollable via infantry because it is so densely packed.
There is very little economy to speak of. 40% of the population is officially unemployed. Of those who are employed, only half are in the private sector. This is a direct result of the Israeli siege which prevents supplies from entering the enclave. Where goods do not pass, rockets and bombs do apparently. Furthermore, UN fact finding missions have concluded that Israel does intentionally target economic hubs such as Gaza's sole airport which has been closed since 2001, factories, bridges, and roads.
So while Israel no longer fields infantry in Gaza because of its logistical impossibility, it does control what enters and leaves the enclave. It is often described as the largest open air prison on the planet. ( http://truth-out.org...open-air-prison ) Restricting the freedom of movement of people and materials into Gaza is an act of violence and so the idea that Israel is somehow minding its own business while suddenly receiving a barrage of rockets for its kindness is yet another line out of Defending Israel for Dummies ®.
Israel frequently bombs Gaza, sometimes with more intensity than others, and because the area is so densely packed and due to what can only be chalked up as a combination of egregious incompetence and a lack of regard for Palestinian life, it mostly kills people who are not affiliated with the militias it is claiming to attack. My position on Israeli violence is that it does not care about distinguishing between militia-affiliated and non-militia Gazans. If it cared about the lives of Gazans, it wouldn't be inflicting an economic siege for 7 years running, nor would it have fielded an occupation force, nor would it continue inflicting war after war on the people there knowing well it does not possess the capacity to prevent civilian deaths. It also would not dump chemical weapons on hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and target civilian infrastructure.
Hamas is still around even after more than a decade of Israel trying to destroy it. Islamic Jihad, Aqsa Brigades, and every other bottle rocket militia with 5 lb warhead tips pointed at Israel remain as strong as ever despite the IV drip of military steroids financed by US taxpayers remaining stuck up the IDF's butt at all times. Why does Israel continue the same strategy it has used for years if it cares so much about civilian life?
Israel has to sell the carnage it inflicts to the tax donkeys in the West by claiming they are fighting an intractable and opaque fanatic enemy who intentionally puts people in harm's way. The illogic they are selling is that Hamas holds civilian hostages in places where their weapons' caches are located so as to deter an Israeli strike because, as the story goes, it is exploiting the Israeli weakness of compassion for the innocent in order to continue its eternal war against the state of Israel and finish what Hitler started.
Yet, if this strategy is already known to everybody with a Time magazine subscription, and it is also understood that Israel is going to bomb weapons caches whether civilians are there or not, then why would you place weapons in an area with civilians in the first place? Wouldn't that immediately be a red flag to Israeli military intelligence that it's where you put your weapons? Furthermore, is there a place in overpopulated Gaza where there are no civilians? Also, if civilians knew that they were being used as hostages would there not be some mass civil movement in Gaza to prevent themselves from becoming pawns in a game of demonic Chinese Checkers between Hamas and Israel?
There are so many obvious questions that can be asked which poke holes in this absolutely idiotic propaganda schtick put on by Israeli shills that we actually have to start looking internally at ourselves to understand why these lines even register with us. For the thinking person, and for the person who examines the evidence of past Israeli aggression, the fact is obvious that Israel does not care about civilian life, and that it even takes great pleasure in inflicting as much suffering on Gaza as it possibly can before Bush, Obama, or whatever oligarch hand puppet at the mantle of the US tax farm has to take the punch bowl away.