GAZA CITY – A mysterious explosion that obliterated eight Gazan homes, damaged
another 30 and wounded over 50 people on Monday originated in a house used by
Hamas to manufacture weapons, The Media Line has learned.RELATED:Editorial: Hamas’s violent message
el-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip was rocked Monday by an
explosion centered in an uninhabited house belonging to Alaa al-Danaf, a field
commander of Izzadin Kassam, the military wing of Hamas.
blamed the explosion on Israel, claiming it was an assassination attempt on
their field commanders.
But speaking on the condition of anonymity, camp
residents told The Media Line that Hamas was using the house to store weapons.
Neighbors said that in the past they had appealed to Hamas to cease their
activities in the camp, but were quickly silenced.
The testimony confirms
the IDF’s denial of any Israeli involvement in the explosion.
representative told The Media Line that the Israel Air Force was not
Deir el- Balah at the time.
“Usually when such explosions occur the armed
groups in Gaza announce it’s Israel’s fault,” Hamdi Shaqqura, deputy
for program affairs at the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human
The Media Line.
“But our investigations often find that this is not the
Shaqqura said armed groups try to hide the existence of bombs in
residential areas, because local residents “would not agree to live on a
The rights group sent a team of field researchers and
attorneys to collect testimony from victims and eyewitnesses following
explosion. Witnesses told the rights group they saw a red glow emanating
the house before the explosion.
Isma’il Younis, 12, a neighbor, told The
Media Line he was home watching TV when a red ray appeared, followed by a
boom that rocked the house, cutting electricity and sending plumes of
Another neighbor added that the moment of the explosion felt
like an earthquake, and she was unable to see her children due to the
smoke and dust.
Early in the morning following the blast, eyewitnesses in
Deir el-Balah told The Media Line, six Hamas minivans arrived to collect
from the site. Witnesses also told the Palestinian Center for Human
they saw Hamas activists surround the house in question and collect
bombs, removing any evidence of weapons.
The rights group concluded that
the explosion ignited within the house and occurred “for no apparent
similar to some incidents in the past.”
The group speculated that the
explosion was caused by faulty manufacturing or bad storage of bombs.
February 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that
Fayed, a member of the Al- Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic
wife, three of his children and three neighbors had all been killed by
explosion in the Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip.
report, released by the rights group at the time, concluded that the
was likely “an internal one,” citing eyewitness accounts of smoke and
rising from the house seconds before the explosion.
The group warned
armed groups in Gaza not to stockpile explosives in residential areas,
threatens civilian lives and is against international humanitarian
Justin Alexander, a Middle East analyst for the Economist
Intelligence Unit, said the lack of space in the Gaza Strip, coupled
Israel’s monitoring of open agricultural areas, accounts for armed
operations within residential areas.
“There aren’t many nonresidential
areas in Gaza,” he told The Media Line.
Israel says the terrorist groups,
both in Gaza and in Lebanon, have a policy of operating from residential
to make it harder to hit back at them and to cause civilian casualties
then be blamed on Israel.
The UN Fact Finding Mission led by Judge
Richard Goldstone found that Palestinian armed groups in Gaza had fired
from within urban areas during its Operation Cast Lead in January 2009.