In the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, 56,000 Jews died. Their fight, however brave, resulted in only sixteen deaths among their German, Polish, and Lithuanian attackers. The Germans were able to systematically destroy the buildings because Jews stayed in the ghetto rather than breaking out of it to take the Poles hostage and use them for human shields. Though not one hundred percent effective, such tactics would have prevented the Germans from setting buildings on fire or resorting to aerial bombardment.

When the Allies respected German human shields, the results were devastating. Though Allied bombers had destroyed much of Germany’s military industry by late 1943, Nazis continued to receive military supplies from factories in Belgium, France, and other occupied territories, which the Allies mostly refrained from bombing, thus endangering their own soldiers and prolonging war and its suffering.

Criticism of Hamas’ use of human shields is hypocritical. Every army does this, often on a much larger scale. In 1940, France hid behind Belgium and thus prompted a German attack on that neutral country. Likewise, British provocations against Norway forced Germany to occupy that country. Britain used Malta to launch intercept attacks on German and Italian convoys to Africa, thus subjecting that island nation to devastating German aerial attacks. By the very act of fighting the war, British generals subjected London to terror bombing campaigns. Military factories were located in London rather than in open-air military bases―a classic case of using a human shield. Any country’s military uses human shields in the sense that they willingly endanger their civilian populations.

Those who condemn Dresden bombing usually do not know that terror bombings were at the time an accepted part of military campaigns. The Germans let the djinn out of the bottle by bombing Guernica, Spain, then Warsaw and Rotterdam. After ten German planes bombed London by mistake instead of military factories there, Britain was free to bomb Berlin. Dresden and Hiroshima were not isolated incidents, but typical military strategy.