IDF Reveals Evidence of War Crimes by Hamas

September 7, 2014

3 min read

While Israel has long claimed that Hamas uses civilians as human shields and civil institutions as cover for its operations, the IDF has now presented its most detailed case ever, including photographic evidence to back its statements.

In a briefing in Tel Aviv, a senior military officer laid out the army’s assessment of the conduct and impact of the Gaza war.  The report included photos showing Hamas and other military groups in Gaza storing and firing rockets from schools.  Other images showed how tunnels were used to carry out attacks and escape.

The intelligence officer laid out details regarding the range and number of rockets in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both before and after the recent engagement.  According to army estimates, before the operation there were some 10,000 rockets in the hands of Gaza militants.  Of those, 350-400 had a range of up to 80 km (50 miles) and a few dozen had a range of 160 km, capable of reaching Jerusalem.

Roughly 4,000 rockets were fired during the operation, and another 3,000 were destroyed by Israel.  The officer also noted “thousands upon thousands” of mortars in militant possession.

The goal of the briefing was to outline the severity of the threat faced by Israel from Gaza and to justify Israel’s use of extreme force during the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge.  Israel had drawn much criticism from around the world for its perceived heavy-handed and indiscriminate tactics.

The details provide a more complete story, however.  Although acknowledging more than half of those killed during the confrontation were civilians, the IDF demonstrated that Hamas tactics of operating from within densely populated areas and using non-military “operatives” to carry out missions increased the civilian death toll.

One NGO is bringing allegations of Hamas war crimes against its own people to the International Criminal Court, taking advantage of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s Jordanian citizenship to do so.


The general staff officer, who spoke to Reuters news agency on condition that his name not be used, explained, “We’re dealing with a carefully structured and in many cases well trained terrorist force.”

“Hamas has at least 16,000 operatives organized into six brigades across the Gaza Strip, each with its own commander, while (Islamic Jihad) has a similar structure and a total of around 6,000 operatives,” he explained.

Israel has verified 2,127 Palestinian deaths.  706 were civilians and 616 militants, while another 805 are still listed as “unknown”.  It is expected that about 40-45% of those will be determined to be military.

Hamas urges civilians, including children, to stand on the roof of a target where the IDF has warned of an impending strike.
Hamas urges civilians, including children, to stand on the roof of a target where the IDF has warned of an impending strike.

The IDF officer provided photographic evidence showing rocket launchers in cemeteries and schools.  One set of pictures showed an empty schoolyard by day filled with rockets at night.  In another school, a canopy had a hole torn in it through which rockets could be launched.  The hole was further frayed from use.

During the operation, Israel struck six UN-run schools in Gaza, killing at least two dozen people.  Weapons were also found in three other UN facilities.  The schools in the photos were not UN schools.

“We’re a moral military. We want to learn from our mistakes,” he said, adding that civilian casualties were “a big issue in the world” and one that Israel was keen to address.

Although the cost of Operation Protective Edge was high, in terms of expense, lives and world opinion, the IDF believes it accomplished a great deal.  Hamas lost most of its arsenal and several top members.  Its tunnel network was decimated, and several of its more advanced tactics, such as the attempted commando attack from the water and its drone-like plane, were foiled.

Three separate investigations into the operation are being launched: an internal investigation by the IDF, one by Israel’s government watchdog, and one by the UN human rights commission.  The UNHRC has already condemned Israel’s actions repeatedly, and its investigation is seen as a farce by Israel and its supporters.

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