Palestinian Children Gather as Human Shields (Source)
Irregular Warfare: Exploiting Morals and Values of the Enemy
Recently, Israel was pushed towards deferring launching airstrikes against Hamas, to retailiate against continuing rocket attacks against Israel.
Hamas was able to effectively leverage the use of human shields to deter Israel, as reported by AP in "Palestinians form human shield to protect militant’s home from airstrike":
"Hundreds of Palestinians formed a human shield around the home of a militant in the northern Gaza Strip late Saturday to prevent an Israeli airstrike on the building, residents said.
Israel routinely orders occupants out of homes ahead of airstrikes on suspected weapons-storage facilities, saying it wants to avoid casualties. The incident in Beit Lahiya was the first time Palestinians have tried to prevent such an airstrike."
How can a modern military, a miltiary that aims to upholds the Geneva Convention under tight media scrutiny, respond to such tactics?
Easy Answer: They Can’t. They have to find something else to target.
What happens when more and more groups/states start following suit when risking military strikes by a Western Power? How will the West balance its normative values with the bluring definition and position of the military and civilian space?
Hamas (and Hezbollah): Perfecting the New Actor on the Global Stage
On the global chessboard of world politics, there are the usual players like international governmental bodies, NGOs, transnational gangs and, of course, nation-states. Hamas and Hezbollah brings has created another category, the "Total Social Movement Organizations". "TSMO" is a wordy phrase, but an apt description.
Hamas and Hezbollah function as a network of charities, religious movement, social movement, political movement and military force. Only such an organization can easily enlist the people as human shields at the face of death. I doubt Hamas was using much if any coercisve force to encourage the Human Shields - faith in Hamas and what it represented was enough.
An organization that combines the full spectrum of human activities - from religious to social justice to military force - will be a resilient force compared to the secular (Post?) Nation-State system that exists in the Wetern countries. They will not replace Western style Nation-States, but will be adapt challengers in the world stage.