You won’t see much in the news about this, but according to the IDF – which of course monitors all rocket launches from Gaza – about 10 percent of the rockets that Hamas shoots in the hope that they will kill and maim Israeli civilians crash back into Gaza. Inevitably, some of these rockets will kill and maim Gazans – after all, as we hear so often, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Another well-known, though not widely reported fact is that Hamas likes to fire its rockets from residential areas. Some journalists stationed in Gaza have posted tweets when they observed rockets being launched from populated areas or even from the vicinity of their offices or their hotels, and sometimes, it was also noted that Gazans were cheering these launches.
But by now, almost 100 Hamas rockets have crashed in Gaza. Needless to say, the damage and casualties these rockets are causing are usually blamed on Israel. That was also the case when the body of a young boy was brought to a Gaza hospital just when Egypt’s Prime Minister was visiting there last week. The dramatic images were widely distributed by the media – but ultimately, it turned out that the dead boy whom CNN presented as “a symbol of civilian casualties” was the victim of a crashed Hamas rocket.
The blogger Elder of Ziyon was the first to point out that the available evidence in this case didn’t justify the claim that the boy had been killed by an Israeli airstrike. In the meantime, a few media sites have corrected their related stories. However, this will probably remain an exceptional case, and most of the damage and casualties caused by crashed Hamas rockets in Gaza will likely be blamed on Israel.
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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.
According to the IDF, by the end of the recent fighting against Hamas, a total of 152 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel crashed backed into Gaza.
Several of the journalists reporting from Gaza have mentioned in their reports that rockets were being fired from civilian neighborhoods. One especially egregious example was the firing of a long-range rocket from the vicinity of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital:
“At 2.08pm, a long-range Qassam rocket, of the type Israel has accused Iran of supplying to Hamas, was fired from within 500 yards of the hospital. […] Hamas officials at the hospital were asked how firing rockets from such a built-up area could be justified as it is likely to provoke Israeli action. One said Palestinians were merely defending themselves, another that it was probably the work of the Islamic Jihad militia.”
Of course, during the previous round of fighting, Hamas leaders used the hospital as their hide-out. As Ha’aretz reported in January 2009:
“Senior Hamas officials in Gaza are hiding out in a ‘bunker’ built by Israel, intelligence officials suspect: Many are believed to be in the basements of the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, which was refurbished during Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip. […] During the mid-1980s the building underwent massive refurbishment as part of a showcase project to improve the living conditions of residents.”