Video: Hamas uses civilians as a means to achieving military goals
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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 Video: Hamas uses civilians as a means to achieving military goals

1/11/2009

A short film presenting visual evidence of the long-standing Hamas tactic of exploiting civilians as human shields, and civilians buildings as cover for terrorist attacks.

Transcript of video

Using civilians as a means to achieving military goals is considered a war crime and a gross violation of the international laws governing armed conflict. Israel sees the use of human shields not only as a violation of international and national law but as anathema to the moral and ethical underpinnings of its own society.

For Palestinian terrorist organizations led by Hamas, using innocent civilians for both offensive and defensive purposes is not a moral aberration but a fundamental element of their combat doctrine.

(Video excerpt from "People and Power" - Broadcast on Aljazeera)

"The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited."
- Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), Article 51/2

(Video footage subtitles:)
 "Death in the making: The casings of rockets are forged here, painted, then filled with explosives."

The act of directing attacks against civilians and civilian targets contravenes the principle of distinction, perhaps the most fundamental of the laws of armed conflict. According to this principle, parties must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Moreover, it is strictly prohibited to direct attacks at civilian objects or civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities.

Hamas indeed distinguishes between civilians and combatants, but rather than avoiding civilians it focuses its rocket fire at towns and cities in Southern Israel, with the aim of causing death, injury and destruction and sowing terror among Israeli civilians.

In contrast, when dealing with densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, the Israel Defense Forces make great efforts to spare innocent lives, often limiting its military objectives and putting its own troops at increased risk.

(Video footage title:)
Hamas operative firing mortars at Israeli forces from a civilian rooftop.

The IDF uses several methods in order to allow innocent bystanders to evacuate targeted areas. It provides advanced notification by air-dropping printed warnings. The IDF has established a unit which gives further notification through verbal telephone announcements made directly to local residents. It also sends text messages directly to mobile telephones. When civilians have either been forced or chosen to remain near targeted areas, the Israel Air Force uses precision strikes only against identified targets, as in this image, with minimal, if any, collateral damage to innocent bystanders.

"The Parties to the conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible:

(b) Avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.
…"
- Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), Article 58

Hamas makes operational use of heavily built-up, densely populated civilian areas in the Gaza Strip for the planning, organizing and launching of rocket attacks. Moreover, Hamas makes use of civilian facilities, such as universities, for weapons development and systematically uses protected civilian areas, such as schools, private homes, hospitals and mosques, for its industry of weapons smuggling, hiding and storage of rockets, explosives and ammunition, as well as the illicit harboring of combatants.

Here, we see the entrance to a weapons smuggling tunnel situated directly under a bed in a residential home. Hamas uses the protected status of places of worship to launch rockets from a mosque in the refugee camp of Jabaliya. The last image of Hamas firing from a children's school, knowing full well that the IDF normally refrains from firing within a close radius of such sensitive buildings, further demonstrates the fine web of terrorist and civilian infrastructures woven together by Hamas.

(Video footage title:)
 Live-fire from residential building.

These examples are an expression of Hamas doctrine to integrate both infrastructures forcing innocent civilians to serve as human deterrents against Israeli attack.

(Video footage title:)
 - Rocket launching from schoolyard - 8.1.2009

"The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations."
- Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), Article 51/2

Human shielding involves the intentional placement of innocent civilians in harm's way in order to protect the lives of combatants or hide illicit military actions. The forceful sacrifice of an innocent sanctity of life is considered a war crime but, first and foremost, it is a reprehensible violation of the universal concept of human decency. Hamas has fully integrated human shielding as a basic element of its terrorist doctrine, initiating live fire attacks against Israel Defense Forces from within civilian crowds, hiding weapons manufacturing facilities and storage depots in residential buildings and places of worship.

(Video footage showing weapons factories in Gaza City and Rafah; mortar shells found in the kitchen of a residential home; and ammunition found in a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp.)

(Video footage showing Abu Bilal al-Ja'abeer, Senior Hamas Activist:)
"I answered my cell phone and someone asked me: 'Are you Abu Bilal al-Ja'abeer?' I said yes. He said: 'I'm Israeli security. You have 5 minutes to evacuate (the house), you and your children.' I immediately shut the cell phone and phoned some friends who called the people via loudspeakers, and they gathered on the roof of the house and remained up until now to defend on the roof of the house, until Allah so wants."

Civilians, including women and children, are also exploited by being placed at military targets which Hamas expects to be attacked.

(Arab video footage, subtitles:
 "The citizens, as soon as they heard of the threat to attack the house, left their houses and went to the house of al-Ja'abeer to form a human shield in an attempt to prevent the bombing of the house.")

(Video footage with subtitles: )
Hamas MP, Fathi Hamad
"For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death like you desire life.'")

"The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities …"
- Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), Article 77/2

Despite universal consensus on the status of children as a protected population, Hamas has shown no respect for this fundamental axiom nor mercy for the children themselves. Hamas begins the process when the children's minds are still pure and unprejudiced, indoctrinating them to blind hatred of Jews and Israelis and a lust for sacrificing their lives in the name of holy Jihad.

The children are then used as human robots remotely controlled by Hamas operators who send them on missions for which they would not risk their own lives.

Under the guise and protection of their age and assumed innocence, these children are used as spotters in the front line of combat, used to retrieve weapons from fallen combatants, used to play in Qasam rocket launching areas to deter Israeli attacks. They're used to transport explosives and weapons and, most grievously, they're sent unknowingly with explosive devices in their schoolbags to be blown up in the vicinity of Israelis.

"We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
- Golda Meir

It is clear beyond any doubt that, in its armed conflict against Israel and Israeli civilians, Hamas has systematically and deliberately perpetrated the most serious violations of the basic principles of moral decency and international law. It acts in complete disregard for the well-being of civilians on both sides of the conflict, mounting a direct assault not only on the law but on Humanity itself.

 
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