Gaza Division commander: Civilians were surprised to realize terror group booby-trapped their houses.
By YAAKOV KATZPublished: JANUARY 22, 2009 15:40Advertisement
Hamas made "monstrous" and "inhumane" use of innocent children when it booby-trapped homes and schools inside the Gaza Strip, OC Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg said Thursday.
Palestinian families in Gaza, Eisenberg said, were often surprised to discover after Operation Cast Lead ended that that without their knowledge, Hamas had booby-trapped their homes and placed explosives beneath them.
"Troops encountered a difficult reality, entering homes and finding suicide bombers hiding in them and walking down streets and finding roadside bombs hidden inside television satellite dishes," he said.
Eisenberg, who was commander of the ground offensive in Gaza, told reporters he was convinced that Hamas was dealt a heavy blow and that Israel had restored its deterrence.
"Hamas has been deterred and understands that the IDF only utilized a small portion of its force," he said.
Since the cease-fire went into effect on Sunday, he said, Hamas had been working to reestablish its regime inside Gaza in an effort to show that it was still in control. Hamas had ordered policemen to deploy on the streets to give an appearance that it was back in charge, he said.
Eisenberg defended the IDF's use of force throughout the operation, which has come under international criticism as being disproportionate.
"The destruction in Gaza was proportional to the explosives and resistance presented by Hamas," he said. "Hamas chose the battlefield. Not us... In places where there wasn't resistance we did our best not to hurt or cause damage, but in places where there was resistance we used force."
While Palestinians reported that some 1,300 were killed during the operation, there have been reports that fewer than half that number were actually killed. Eisenberg said that more than half were Hamas operatives. "Most of the dead are adult Hamas operatives with blood on their hands," he said.
Asked about abducted soldier Gilad Schalit, Eisenberg said his release was not one of the expressed objectives of the campaign, but that he was convinced that "the operation's achievement will assist in bringing him home safely."
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