During the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May 2021, the Israelis often found themselves needing to hit Hamas hideouts – for both weapons and fighters – that had been situated near schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and mosques. The IDF did what it could to minimize civilian casualties, by warning Gazans of impending attacks on particular targets, through telephoning, leafletting, emailing, and use of the “knock on the roof” technique, so that they could leave in time. But much of the world still condemned Israel for its attacks, ignoring the fact that it was Hamas that had endangered civilians by choosing to deliberately place its weapons, rocket launching pads, and fighters among them.
Now Israel has decided to lay bare to the world exactly where Hamas has positioned itself close to, or inside, or under, civilian structures, which is itself a war crime. A report on this proleptic revelation is here: “Israel Reveals Hamas Infrastructure in Civilian Areas Used to Launch Terror Attacks,” by Sharon Wrobel, Algemeiner, July 27, 2022:
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday urged the global community to exact a “heavy price” from Hamas, as the Israeli military revealed evidence claiming to show how the terrorist organization conducts operations near civilian sites in the Gaza Strip, risking the lives of Palestinian residents.…
An IDF official disclosed drone footage displaying alleged Hamas military locations in the heart of densely populated civilian areas in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF has long argued that Hamas uses civilian sites for military purposes. During last May’s hostilities with the terror group, Israel came under harsh international criticism for its actions during the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls, including the bombing of a building housing the Associated Press’ office in Gaza. The al-Jalaa building, which the IDF claimed was used by Hamas for intelligence purposes, was evacuated before the attack, leaving civilians unharmed.
The unusual furor over the attack on the Al-Jalaa building reflected the fact that the news agency AP had its headquarters in the building, and the agency claimed that it was purely a “civilian” building, apparently unaware that a key Hamas command-and-control center was also in the building, as Israel made clear. Despite the IDF’s explanation, the AP executives refused to accept its account, continuing to insist that Al-Jalaa had been purely a civilian building filled with the offices of Western media.
One example presented to international reporters Wednesday showed footage of a Hamas terror tunnel in the Zabara neighborhood of Gaza City — located underneath an United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school and a Catholic school that serve as emergency shelters, and stretching along a medical storage compound as well as a central ambulance center.
A separate tunnel used to store weapons and ammunition and mobilize Hamas fighters was exposed in Jabalia, north of Gaza City, next to a Pepsi factory and an UNRWA school.
In other footage, taken in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza, the opening of a terrorist tunnel can be seen close to the Shahid Fatehi Ashkeloni mosque, and 200 feet away from the Gamal Abed al-Nasser school, which houses classrooms and outside sports facilities. The shaft leading to the tunnel is located in the home of a Hamas terrorist, an IDF official said.
The presentation also displayed a Hamas weapons production site near the al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip — an area where, the IDF official estimated, an explosion could kill hundreds of civilians and damage health infrastructure.
The world, which was so quick to condemn Israel in May 2021 for its attacks on so-called “civilian targets,” has now been fully informed by the IDF as to Hamas’ use of civilian sites where it has placed its fighters, its storehouse of weapons, its weapons production sites, its command-and-control centers, both above and below ground. Israel has chosen to make clear now, in advance of the next inevitable round of hostilities, that in another war started by Hamas, these places will of necessity be targeted, though as always, the IDF will warn inhabitants of impending attacks so that they can leave. Israel has laid out the evidence of Hamas’ hideouts in and around civilian structures. Who will now pay it heed?
But it’s not only that great world of Israel’s critics who have had the extensive evidence – photographs taken by all-seeing drones – put before them, showing clearly Hamas’ use of civilian sites, and thus been able to grasp the consequent deliberate endangerment of civilians. It is the Palestinians of Gaza who now know the full extent of Hamas’ indifference to their lives and wellbeing, and that might just make them ponder whether their loyalty to the terror group – which has shown no loyalty to them — is misplaced.