1. During confrontations with Israel, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have adopted various tactics of using civilians as human shields. One of them is encouraging civilians to gather on roofs to prevent operatives and their houses from being attacked by the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Such a tactic is aimed at deterring Israel from attacking and was used by the terrorist organizations in Operation Cast Lead, and now again in Operation Protective Edge (on July 8, 2014).
2. It can be expected that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations will use this and other tactics to encourage Palestinian civilians to protect their terrorist operatives and infrastructures. In ITIC assessment, the use of civilians as human shields is likely to increase as the IDF expands the scope of Operation Protective Edge. The organization's objectives are to make it difficult for the IDF to operate and to exploit civilian casualties for political, propaganda and legal purposes when it ends. (For examples of the tactic of using civilians as human shields).
Using Civilians as Human Shields to Prevent Air Strikes
Attacking a Terrorist Operative from the Kaware Clan – Initial Update
3. On July 8, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, the IAF attacked the house of Odeh Kaware, a senior Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades Hamas terrorist operative from the Kaware clan in Khan Yunis. After the attack an Egyptian media website reported that eye witnesses told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that the IDF had warned the members of the household of Odeh Kaware, a senior terrorist operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to vacate the house because it was going to be attacked (Masralarabia.com, July 9, 2014). According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (July 9, 2014), an IDF source had reported that the house was used as an operations room by a company commander in the Hamas brigade in Khan Yunis.
4. The Palestinian media reported that many civilians had gathered around the house and mounted the roof to serve as human shields for the Hamas operative and to prevent the IDF from attacking (Paltimes.net and Watan TV, July 8, 2014). According to the Palestinian media, seven Palestinians were killed in the attack and several others were wounded.
Hamas Spokesman Appeals to Civilians to Serve as Human Shields to Prevent Air Strikes
5. On July 8, 2014, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on civilians in the Gaza Strip to serve as human shields for operatives attacked by the IAF. Interviewed by Al-Aqsa TV, he mentioned the attack on the Kaware house, during which, he said, "bare-chested men" had gathered to face Israeli war planes "to defend their homes." He said the tactic had already proved itself and called on the Palestinian people to use it again.
6. In the interview with Sami Abu Zuhri, the interviewer said that a large number of people had gathered [near the Karawe house] and were mounting the roof to prevent IAF planes from attacking it. He added that the tactic had proved highly successful in the past, in the case of the martyr Nizar Riyan, and asked Sami Abu Zuhri to comment. Sami Abu Zuhri replied that the jihad-fighting Palestinian people defended their homes and blood with "bare chests." The tactic had proved effective against the [so-called Israeli] "occupation" and Hamas, he said, called on the Palestinian people to use it to protect their homes. (For information about Sheikh Nizar Riyan, who developed the concept of using civilians as human shields for terrorist operatives in the Gaza Strip
7. Following the attack on Odeh Kaware's house in Khan Yunis, Sami Abu Zuhri issued a statement condemning it. He stressed that as a result all Israeli civilians had become legal targets (Zamnpress.com, July 8, 2014). (Note: In any case Hamas regards every Israeli civilian as a legitimate target and indiscriminately launches rockets at civilian population centers.)
Announcement from the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior in the Gaza Strip
8. After the interview with Sami Abu Zuhri, the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip issued "an important announcement" calling on civilians not to pay attention to IDF announcements about vacating their homes (July 10, 2014). It read as follows (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, July 10, 2014) (ITIC translation):
"The army of the occupation [i.e., the IDF] has recorded a telephone message and used it to call tens of thousands of residents in all areas of the Gaza Strip, calling on them to vacate their homes immediately. We hereby note that these recorded messages [have as their objective] to frighten the residents, to sow terror and weaken the internal front in the shadow of the enemy's failure. We call on our dear residents to reject these messages, not to vacate their homes and to conduct themselves calmly. Should the need arise, call the following toll free numbers: Central Operations 109, the Ministry of the Interior 1800131313..."
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