One of the more heated arguments surrounding the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza involves civilian casualties. There's a lot of talk of how densely populated Gaza is, but a new report from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center shows how Hamas has used its control over Gaza to spread its terror infrastructure among the masses.
The 81-page report details how population centers are used to house military personnel, bombs and other explosives and as bases from which to fire rockets at Israeli cities.
It cites the number of secondary explosions following an Israeli-bombing, which indicates the targets, in fact, stored Hamas munitions. It's impossible to assess how many civilian casualties are due to those secondary explosions. But the report makes clear that Hamas deliberately urges women and children to serve as human shields:
"During Operation Cast Lead and in many instances in the past, the terrorist organizations have exploited IDF warnings to civilians to evacuate their residences before attacks to send children and adolescents to the relevant locations, knowing the IDF will not deliberately attack civilians. Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya and many other Hamas leaders (such as Nizar Rayyan, killed in Operation Cast Lead) have openly boasted about their use of their human shield tactics."
While Israeli critics throw the phrase "war crimes" around, the report cites specific violations by Hamas:
"In particular, Hamas must be called to cease its deliberate attacks against wholly civilian objects in attempts to maximize damage to civilians and civilian property, and avoid using civilians and civilian population centers as `human shields'.These continuing grave violations of basic principles of the Laws of Armed Conflict, as carried out by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, demonstrate their complete disregard for the well-being of civilians on both sides of this conflict, posing a direct assault, not only on the law, but on humanity itself."