The radio message to the Israel Air Force pilot en route to bombing a Hamas
rocket launcher in Gaza came in loud and clear: Abort mission.
spotted, the pilot was told.
It was one of many occasions in which pilots
were ordered to call off air strikes in the last moment, after real-time footage
of the target area revealed the presence of Palestinian
The IAF is dealing with an enemy keen on using the densely
populated Gaza Strip as a rocket base, often shooting the projectiles from the
tops of residential buildings, or near schools, mosques, and other public
Such tactics are not new for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In recent
years, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya declared that “the Palestinians are a
nation of jihad and martyrdom,” while Hamas MP Fathi Hamed, addressing Israel,
said, “We desire death more than you desire life.
Hamed went on to state
that, “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women
excel... the elderly excel at this... and so do the children.
This is why
they have formed human shields of the women, the children.”
campaigns instruct the population that “bombs are more precious than
In line with this ideology, rockets and explosives are hidden
in Gazan homes, and senior terrorists, such as Yahiya Abiya, the head of Hamas’s
rocket program, often remain in homes surrounded by civilians.
IDF makes major efforts to avoid harming civilians, such as distributing warning
leaflets instructing noncombatants to stay away from areas used by Hamas to fire
on Israel, phoning- in warnings, and deliberately missing targets on the first
strike, to give civilians time to leave, these attempts at caution don’t always
In the case of Abiya, the air strike killed 10 Palestinian
civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
While Abiya was
hit in the strike, it seems fair to assume that IDF planners were not aware of
the fact that the home was filled with noncombatants as well.
strike carries its own cost-risk analysis, a calculation influenced by the level
of threat posed by the intended target.
Yahiya was responsible for firing
thousands upon thousands of rockets at Ashdod, Beersheba, and Ashkelon, and
would have been seen as a high-value target.
This won’t be the last time
that senior Hamas terrorists will seek cover behind Palestinian civilians.