Hamas now publicly admits that it used civilian areas to launch rockets at Israel during the summer war, according to a Times of Israel report.
But in admitting that "mistakes" were made, the terrorist organization claims that it had no choice but to fire from urban areas since Gaza is so densely populated. A BBC map of the Gaza Strip demonstrates that there are open areas in which Hamas could have set up their operations to avoid innocent casualties.
According to Hamas, it is not about whether the terrorists fired from residential areas, but rather exactly how close they were to civilian structures.
"The Israelis kept saying rockets were fired from schools or hospitals when, in fact, they were fired from 200-300 meters [220-328 yards] away. Still there were some mistakes made and they were quickly dealt with," senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told the Associated Press.
That claim is demonstrably false. An Indian television crew showed a rocket launching site adjacent to their hotel. A French television crew showed rockets being fired near a United Nations building. The Israel Defense Forces produced ample evidence throughout the conflict, including a Hamas training manual, showing that civilian buildings – including mosques, schools, hospitals, and private homes – were deliberately chosen as locations for rocket launch pads, weapons storage and to serve as operating bases.
Israel is now compiling evidence of Hamas' use of human shields to prepare for an impending United Nations investigation into possible war crimes on either side. Most of the evidence will come from Israeli intelligence and Air Force footage, especially since journalists in Gaza were prevented from reporting Hamas' conversion of civilian structures into military bases of operations. In fact, there are numerous documented cases of journalists being detained, interrogated, and even exiled for suspicion of filming Hamas' exploitation of human shields. Yet some journalists were able to report of this blatant violation of international law. In one instance, video footage sent out by the Associated Press showed a rocket launched from a lot next to a mosque in Gaza City.
Meanwhile, Gaza may lose out on possible foreign investment for reconstruction if Hamas remains in power.
"As long as Hamas insists on controlling the Gaza Strip and continues to prevent the PA and the national unity government from exercising their duties, there will be neither funds nor investment," Ali Ibrahim, Saudi Arabian-affiliated Asharq al-Awsat's deputy editor in chief wrote in an op-ed Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reports.