A terrorist squad launching mortar shells (circled in red) near a central school building in the complex in Beit Hanoun (filmed by the Israeli Air Force and distributed by the IDF Spokesman, October 31)
1. The film was taken by the Israeli Air Force on the morning of October 29. It shows a three-man terrorist squad firing mortar shells next to a main building in an educational complex in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip (the region from which terrorists often fire rockets and mortars at Israeli settlements). It clearly shows the men preparing the firing position and launching the rockets very close to the school building. They are then seen taking cover inside.
2. The use of civilians as human shields in direct violation of the international laws governing warfare is routine among the Palestinian terrorist organizations , and has been broadened and fine-tuned in the Gaza Strip. It has many variations: rocket and mortar fire at Israel from populated areas; conducting exchanges of fire with the IDF from civilian dwellings and public institutions; installing terrorist facilities in densely populated areas; and enlisting Palestinian civilians, including women and children, and encouraging them to present themselves where there is fighting going to serve as human shields. 1The terrorist organizations are fully aware that by using that modus operandi, they present operational difficulties for the IDF's counterterrorist activities .
A mortar position and launch near a residential dwelling
(Al-Aqsa TV, October 26).
3. The quantity of mortar fire in 2007 has been unprecedented since it was introduced in 2001 . The shells are fired at military targets (IDF posts along the Gaza Strip border and IDF forces carrying out pinpoint operations within the Strip) and civilian targets (Israeli settlements near the Gaza Strip and the crossings). Hamas is responsible for most of the mortar shell attacks because since it took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007 it has refrained from direct participation in rocket fire (although it allows and even encourages the other terrorist organizations to fire rockets at Israel ).
1 For further information see our November 11, 2006 Bulletin entitled "The Palestinian terrorist organizations, have recently made more frequent use of civilians as human shields to protect their bases and operatives” . Also see our March 11, 2007 Bulletin "Anti-Israeli Terrorism, 2006: Data, Analysis and Trends”.