Evidence of the Use of the Civilian Population as Human Shields:

Issued on: 06/02/2009 Type: Article


Overview

1. During Operation Cast Lead the IDF detained dozens of terrorist operatives, most of them belonging to Hamas. All the terrorists detained were transferred to the Israel Security Agency for interrogation, where they revealed a great deal of information about the use Hamas made of public buildings (including mosques and schools) and private residences as sites for storing weapons. They also related that rockets were fired from public and private buildings, and that public institutions were put to military use based on the assumption that the IDF would be deterred from attacking them.

2. In addition, the operatives said that Hamas had commandeered the humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip and prevented it from being freely distributed to the Gazans. They said that Hamas exploited sources of external aid to reward operatives and as bait to enlist new ones. Palestinians who agreed to join Hamas received food coupons and other benefits.

Firing Rockets Near Schools
IDF Spokesman, January 11, 2009
IDF forces conducting a search near a booby-trapped school. Right: The white fuse
running around the structure is visible near the wall (IDF Spokesman, January 11, 2009).

3. Operatives belonging to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations regularly fire rockets and mortar shells from close proximity to public buildings, including educational institutions . That is done primarily because such structures protect them from IDF attacks against rocket launchers and rocket launching squads, evidence of which could be found in the period before Operation Cast Lead. 2

4. Additional evidence was provided by Nawaf Feisal Attar , a Hamas terrorist operative from Al-Atatra in the northern Gaza Strip , detained on January 11,2009 . During interrogation he admitted that Hamas regularly launched rockets from near schools. As examples he gave the Sakhnin school in the Abu Halima neighborhood and another in the Al-Mal neighborhood, saying that rockets were fired from both. He said that was because Hamas operatives knew Israeli aircraft would not attack a school.

5. During Operation Cast Lead, IDF forces often had to deal with booby-trapped schools and rocket launchers positioned near schools. In one instance, on January 18, after Israel had announced it was holding its fire, a rocket launcher was identified between two school buildings. The launcher was not attacked by the Israeli Air Force because of its proximity to the schools.

Firing rockets near two school buildings
Firing rockets near two school buildings after Israel announced
it was holding its fire (IDF Spokesman, January 18).

Using Private Civilian Houses to Store Weapons and Firing Rockets
from Nearby and from Agricultural Areas

Weapons and military equipment uncovered in the house of Hamas operatives
Weapons and military equipment uncovered in the house of Hamas operatives
during Operation Cast Lead (IDF Spokesman, January 15, 2009).

Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip
Fighting from residential dwellings: Fortified position on roof of house in the heart
of a civilian neighborhood in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

6. Hamas stores weapons in civilian dwellings in densely populated areas, and sometimes rockets are launched near them. Both routinely and during Operation Cast Lead, when the Israeli Air Force carried out pinpoint aerial attacks, aircraft cameras captured powerful secondary explosions , evidence of the presence of large quantities of weapons and explosives stored in private houses. By situating weapons and firing from residential civilian areas, Hamas knowingly endangered Gazans' lives.

7. Hamas operative Nawaf Feisal Attar , a resident of Al-Atatra, detained on January 11, 2009 , said that masked Hamas operatives regularly launched rockets from civilian houses and agricultural areas despite the objections of the owners, who feared their houses and fields would be destroyed by the IDF. However, he said, local opposition was limited because the Palestinian population did not dare argue with Hamas operatives, who would shoot their legs or even kill them, claiming they were collaborators. 3

8. Rami Misbah Abed Rabbo , a Hamas operative from Jabaliya , said during interrogation that this past year he often conducted observations from his house and reported to Hamas about IDF movements. He also said that during the lull arrangement he was approached by a Hamas operative who asked him to put IEDs in a citrus grove near his house. He said that Hamas stored large quantities of weapons in citrus groves. Raji Misbah Abed Rabbo , also a resident of Jabaliya , a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist operative, said that he had stored IEDs in his house. He also said that Hamas operatives would hide IEDs in streets hear mosques and in citrus groves.

9. Imad Yusuf Hamed , a Hamas terrorist operative from Beit Hanoun , said that three months ago Hamas operatives had been authorized to use land belonging to them and their families to hide barrels containing launchers and rockets. He said that he had buried three and had two more which he was supposed to bury. He also admitted that he had hidden Kalashnikov assault rifles and ammunition behind his house.

Using Mosques as Weapons Storehouses

IDF Spokesman, January 13, 2009   Weapons discovered in a mosque
Weapons discovered in a mosque during Operation Cast Lead. Left: Anti-tank cannon
(IDF Spokesman, January 13, 2009).

Weapons discovered in a mosque
Weapons discovered in a mosque during Operation Cast Lead (IDF Spokesman, January 15, 2009).

Rocket launching position near a mosque
Rocket launching position near a mosque in the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

Tunnel opening near Al-Khaq Mosque
Tunnel opening near Al-Khaq Mosque in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip

10. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations frequently use the many mosques scattered throughout the Gaza Strip for military purposes . Subhi Majed Attar , a Hamas terrorist operative from Al-Atatra in the northern Gaza Strip, revealed during interrogation that some of the military training he received from Hamas was theoretical. He was instructed in various issues, including rockets and RPGs. The lessons were held in the Bilal bin Rabah mosque in Al-Atatra .

11. Rami Misbah Abed Rabbo , Hamas terrorist operative from Jabaliya, said that Hamas stored large quantities of weapons in mosques such as the Salah al-Din mosque in the Zeitun neighborhood in Gaza City, which housed rocket and other weapons.

Using Public Institutions (Hospitals, Sports Clubs) for Military Purposes

Using Public Institutions (Hospitals, Sports Clubs) for Military Purposes
Rocket Launching position near public buildings in the Sha'ati Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip

12. Imad Yusuf Hamed said that Hamas situated one of its training camps in a sports club behind the Omar Ibn Abed Al-Aziz mosque in Khan Yunis . He said that a laboratory for the manufacture of IEDs and rockets was located in the civilian administration building in the Jabaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip.

13. Rami Misbah Abed-Rabbo related that during Operation Cast Lead senior Hamas operatives took over a very large bunker under the Shifa hospital in Gaza City and hid there. In addition, after the operation (during the last week of January 2009) Hamas also took over a Red Crescent clinic in Khan Yunis and turned it into a facility for holding prisoners.

Delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead
Delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead
(IDF Spokesman, January 2, 5, and 6, 2009).

14. Nawaf Feisal Attar , from Al-Atatra, detained on January 11, 2009 , said that workers for the Hamas administration received all the humanitarian aid sent from Israel to the Gaza Strip. Gazans who were supposed to receive the aid for free had to pay for it. He said it was easy to identify the aid that came from Israel because of the Hebrew letters on the packaging.

15. Subhi Majed Attar , Hamas operative from Al-Atatra, said that to encourage Palestinians to join its ranks, Hamas handed out coupons which could be redeemed for food. Note : It is reasonable to assume that Hamas acquired the food distributed to new recruits from the humanitarian aid delivered to the Gaza Strip.

16. Hamad Faraj Saleh , from Jabaliya , recounted Hamas's control of the humanitarian aid which was delivered to the Gaza Strip by UNRWA . He said that the situation had existed de facto since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip [June 2007]. As a result, he said, Fatah activists did not receive aid, while food and equipment were transferred directly to Hamas operatives and their supporters .

17. During Operation Cast Lead complaints were often heard that Hamas stole the humanitarian aid delivered to the Gaza Strip and channeled it to Hamas supporters. For example, a surfer on a Fatah Internet forum said that "the aid goes into Hamas's stores. They sell it to poor civilians...who are forced to wear green berets [identifying them with Hamas] to be able to buy it. If you don't wear a green beret, there is neither food nor drink for you in Gaza .” Another surfer added that "the Hamas militias take the aid that arrives and give it to movement operatives...Hamas sells the aid...at higher than normal prices.” He also complained that the aid was not distributed by organizations such as UNRWA and the Red Cross, but by Hamas (Fatah forum, January 15, 2009 ). The claims made by Fatah supporters have been substantiated by the interrogations of Hamas operatives detained by the IDF.

18. On February 4, 2009, two weeks after Operation Cast Lead, UNRWA spokesman Christopher Jones said that on February 3 Hamas police raided the UNRWA storehouses and confiscated [i.e., stole] 3,500 blankets and more than 400 food parcels which were earmarked for distribution to the Gazan civilian population (AP, February 4, 2009).

UNRWA website, January 17, 2009
UNRWA humanitarian aid delivered to the Gaza Strip (UNRWA website, January 17, 2009).
Hamas steals the aid and steals channels it to its supporters.


1 Based on interrogations of Hamas operatives detained during Operation Cast Lead; information received from the Israel Security Agency. More details can be found on the ISA website, http://www.shabak.gov.il/English/EnTerrorData/Pages/cast-lead-Interrogations.aspx .

2 See Page 15 of our January 6, 2009 bulletin entitled "Hamas Exploitation of Civilians
as Human Shields” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e028.pdf .

3 Our January 6, 2009 bulletin, "Hamas Exploitation of Civilians as Human Shields,” cites many examples of Gazans who became casualties or suffered property damage as a result of rocket fire (See Section Four, "The price paid by the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” page 65). The Gazans resented the harm done to them and sometimes expressed their feelings in the media. Hamas, however, was careful to suppress expressions of resentment and prevented the media operating in the Gaza Strip from fully reporting the suffering of the local population resulting from terrorist organization rocket fire.

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