Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hamas slammed for 'monstrous' use of civilians

Reports emerging of women, children placed in line of Israeli fire
By Aaron Klein

HERZLIYA, Israel – In the aftermath of Israel's three-week offensive targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip, reports are emerging of how the terrorists used civilians during the conflict.

"Entire families in Gaza lived on top of a barrel of explosives for months without knowing," stated Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg.

Eisenberg charged Hamas sent civilians, including women and children, to transfer weapons to gunmen engaged in battles with Israeli forces, and he accused Hamas of booby-trapping many of the civilians' homes. He labeled Hamas' alleged use of civilians as "monstrous" and "inhumane." Similar reports were provided to WND during previous Israeli battles with Hamas. During one battle focusing largely on the Hamas infrastructure in the city of Jabaliya, about one mile into the Gaza Strip, an Israeli commander said Hamas drew Israeli forces into populated civilian areas, shooting at Jewish fighters from occupied civilian homes while women and children were inside.

In another case, Israel's Haaretz daily quoted an Israeli commander describing how Hamas sent a 10-year-old boy into the battlefield in full view of the Israeli military to remove a gun from a felled terrorist and then pass the weapon to another terrorist. The commander at the scene said he ordered his troops to halt their fire as the Israeli military watched.

Another commander speaking to WND said Hamas snipers used the windows of a Jabaliya house that was clearly occupied by women and children to shoot at his unit.

"The aim is to draw us into killing civilians to bring about international pressure to end our operation," the commander said.

The international community and much of the world media constantly berated Israel for purportedly killing more than 1,250 Palestinians during the conflict.

Many media members claimed those numbers were mostly civilians. WND reported the media was parroting Hamas casualty counts with no independent verification.

Now the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted what it said was a Palestinian doctor at Gaza City's main Shifa Hospital disputing the Hamas casualty numbers.

"It's possible that the death toll in Gaza was 500 or 600 at the most, mainly youths aged 17 to 23 who were enlisted by Hamas – who sent them to their deaths," he said.

The IDF's own estimate, which is not based on verification of deaths, puts the toll at about 1,000, two-thirds of which it says were gunmen.

The Gaza doctor continued: "Perhaps it is like Jenin in 2002. At the beginning they (Palestinians) spoke about 1,500 dead, and at the end it turned out to be only 54 – of whom 45 were militants."

The doctor was referring to a 2002 Israeli anti-terror raid in the northern West Bank town of Jenin after which Hamas and the PA claimed hundreds of Palestinian civilians were murdered.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed on CNN that "more than 500 people" were killed. He repeated the charge on CNN a day later, adding that 300 Palestinians were being buried in mass graves.

It was later determined 54 Palestinians were killed, mostly terrorists, while the IDF lost 23 troops while they engaged in house-to-house combat "instead of massive air raids" in order to limit civilian casualties.

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