Sunday, February 01, 2009

Gazans detail being used as human shields
Testimonies decry 'monstrous' use of women, children, ambulances

Posted: February 01, 2009
6:04 pm Eastern

By Aaron Klein


"We, your brothers, holy war fighters used this house. … Our apologies."

HERZLIYA, Israel – More tales are emerging of the ways Hamas utilized civilians during Israel's 22-day war against the terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, including accounts from Gaza residents who accuse Hamas of using them as human shields.

In one case, after engaging with terrorists holed up inside a civilian apartment complex, the Israel Defense Forces seized an Arabic-language note left behind, addressed to one of the apartment's occupants.

"Greetings, honored residents of this house," reads the note, obtained by WND. "We, your brothers, holy war fighters used this house and some of the things in it. Our apologies."

Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Muhammad Shriteh, a Gaza-based ambulance driver, who complained Hamas would "lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety."

He told the paper his ambulance company "coordinate[d] with the Israelis before we picked up patients … so they would not shoot at us."

Shriteh recounted one instance when he was called to an emergency in the Jabaliya camp in the northern Gaza Strip only to find Hamas terrorists waiting inside a civilian apartment complex, hiding from Israeli fire.

"They were very scared, and very nervous," he said. "They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away."

Shriteh stated he refused to help because, he believed, if the IDF saw him transporting Hamas gunmen, he would not be able to pick up any more wounded people. He recounted one of the Hamas operatives putting a gun to his head, but he still refused and then they allowed him to leave.

He said at one point Hamas attempted to hijack the ambulances at one of the main hospitals in Gaza City.

"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you," Shriteh said. "So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."

Also, in a piece entitled "Parsing Gains of the Gaza War," the New York Times quoted a source it said was close to Hamas, describing how the group "fired rockets in between the houses and covered the alleys with sheets so they could set the rockets up in five minutes without the planes seeing them. The moment they fired, they escaped."

The Italian daily Corriere della Sera last week published an article translated into English by Israel's Center for Special Studies quoting Gaza residents accusing Hamas of shooting from their homes and then preventing the residents from fleeing when Israel returned fire.

Last week, WND broke the story that Hamas took out dozens of apartments from within civilian complexes where it currently bases its new government infrastructure: including Hamas' interior ministry, court system, ministry of transportation, education, police, health services and scores of other official institutions.

Hamas sources claimed the group had no choice but to open their offices within civilian apartment complexes, since their previous government buildings were mostly bombed by Israel.

Also last week, IDF Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, who fought in Gaza, 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.


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