Against the backdrop of Gaza terrorists firing rockets while hiding behind their own people as human shields, Israel is taking multi-level steps to avoid civilian casualties in responding to the attacks—and on Saturday they highlighted this effort to the world. The IDF Twitter page, in a series of tweets, explained how Israel approaches tall buildings in Gaza used by terrorists for military purposes. “The Israel Defense Forces struck a number of such buildings in recent days, but before we did so, we took steps to try and ensure that civilians would not be harmed,” said the posts. “We called the building’s residents and warned them to leave. We sent SMS messages. We dropped ‘roof knocker’ bombs; they make loud noises and hit only the roof. We provided sufficient time to evacuate.”
This effort to protect civilians can sometimes mean Israel’s airstrikes on terrorist targets are less effective. A series of posts highlighted the Israeli efforts to avoid innocent casualties in striking Al Jala Tower in Gaza. While the building was used by international media in Gaza, the IDF tweets noted it was also used as a Hamas base that “gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper IDF operations.”
Despite the significance of the Hamas base, the IDF posts said that Israel “warned civilians in the building about our strike out of concern for their safety & gave them enough time to safely evacuate. Hamas & Islamic Jihad used this time to take items out of the building. We were willing to pay that price to not harm any civilians.”
In addition to risking a military advantage by allowing civilians to escape, Israel has also taken the approach of canceling an attack altogether to prevent collateral damage. A Twiter post on Sunday showed a video in which an Israeli airstrike is called off because of the apparent “possibility” that children were present. Said the tweet, “Fighting a terrorist organization that operates within civilian areas isn’t easy.”
Israeli Prime Minister reiterated this Israeli approach in his comments with United States President Joe Biden on Saturday. In a press release about the call, Israel said Netanyahu “emphasized that Israel is doing everything to avoid harming persons who are uninvolved; the proof of this is that the buildings in which terrorist targets are being hit by the IDF are evacuated of uninvolved persons.”
In separate comments to the public on Saturday, Netanyahu contrasted Israel’s approach to the innocent with that of Hamas. “I want to remind the world that in firing on our cities, Hamas is committing a double war crime. They’re targeting our civilians and hiding behind Palestinian civilians, effectively using them as human shields,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office.
“As always, Israel is doing everything possible to protect our civilians and keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way. We demonstrated this yet again today when we warned civilians to vacate the building used by the Hamas terror intelligence. They vacated the premises before the target was destroyed and that’s why you don’t hear of casualties from these collapsing terror towers because we take special care to avoid these civilian casualties, exactly the opposite of Hamas.”
And it’s not only Israeli civilians being hit by Hamas rockets. In a tragic twist of irony, the IDF reported on Twitter that as of Sunday, a stunning 439 rockets fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the last week had ended up crashing into Gaza instead of Israel. This resulted in causing “around 20 Palestinian casualties” per the IDF post.
“That’s 15% of their launches,” continued the IDF. “Think of it this way: About 1 in 7 rockets that Hamas fires—it fires at its own people.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 16, 2021)