by Itamar Marcus, Barbara Crook and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
“The [UN] Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity of their [Hamas’s] combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack.”
[Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War, Sept. 15, 2009]
The UN’s Goldstone Commission Report claimed it could find “no evidence” that Hamas intentionally used civilians as human shields during the Gaza War. But PMW’s special reports during the war documented this practice, and revealed testimony from children describing how they were being used by Hamas in combat support roles
Hamas had already announced publicly before the war that using “women, children and the elderly” as “human shields” was indeed Hamas policy — and that Hamas was proud of it. Hamas Member of Parliament, Fathi Hamad,
pronounced with enthusiasm on Hamas TV that Hamas had made “death an industry,” and that its message to Israel (“the Zionist enemy”) about its use of civilians as shields was, “We desire death as you desire life.”
There was also Palestinian testimony about Hamas murdering Palestinian civilians during the war.
PMW is re-releasing some of the PMW Special News Reports published during the Gaza War, documenting Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields, its murder of Palestinian civilians, and Mahmoud Abbas’s blaming the war on Hamas.
To see all PMW Special News Reports that were released during the Gaza War, click here.
Following is the collection of PMW Special News Reports relating specifically to human shields, Hamas murdering Palestinians and Abbas blaming Hamas for the war:
Palestinian victims describe being used as shields by Hamas
Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a “fortress” by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields. They described how for years Hamas has used their property and homes as shields for military installations from which to launch rockets into Israel, dig tunnels and store arms. According to the victims, those who tried to object were shot in the legs by Hamas.
The following is the description in the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:
“The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins…
The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town of Sderot which turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights.
The Abd Rabbo family members emphasize that they are not [Hamas] activists and that they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they were unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night. One family member, Hadi (age 22) said: ‘You can’t say anything to the resistance [Hamas], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs.'”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]
Hamas explains using civilians as human shields:
We desire death as you desire life (February 2008)
The following is the full text of the comments by Hamas representative Fathi Hamad months before the war, articulating the Hamas ideology to use civilians as human shields for Hamas fighters:
“For the Palestinian people death has become an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death as you desire life.'”
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) Feb. 29, 2008]
Iranian daily: Hamas hiding forces in nurseries and hospitals
An Iranian reformist daily newspaper has criticized Hamas “for risking lives of civilians, amongst them children, by hiding its forces in nurseries and hospitals.” This is reported in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam:
Headline: “Iran closes a reformist newspaper, for publishing a report criticizing Hamas”
“The Iranian news agency ‘Irna’ reported yesterday that the Iranian Culture Ministry has closed the reformist daily newspaper Karjo Zaran because it published a report that included criticism of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).
On Dec. 30 the paper published a statement of a reformist student organization, that has criticized Hamas for risking lives of civilians, amongst them children, by hiding its forces in nurseries and hospitals. The statement was published while the Iranian government expresses a unified stands against Israel, and Tehran is overwhelmed by demonstrations against Israel.”
[Al-Ayyam, Jan. 1, 2009]
Hamas using children in combat support roles
A child in Gaza describes how he and other children are being used in combat support roles for Hamas fighters. According to the Palestinian child, children are being used as scouts to follow Israeli movements, and as couriers to supply ammunition and deliver information to the Hamas fighters.
The following is the description of the children’s combat support roles, quoted in an Israeli Arab weekly:
“[The newspaper] Kul Al-Arab called many Gaza Strip residents, to comprehend the situation of the people who are suffering for two weeks from the wild Israeli aggression…
Khaled, from A-Rimal [in Gaza], said: ‘We the children, in small groups and in civilian clothes, are fulfilling missions of support for the [Hamas] Resistance fighters, by transmitting messages about the movements of the enemy forces, or by bringing them ammunition and food. We ourselves are not aware of the movements of the Resistance fighters. We see them in one place, they suddenly disappear, and then reappear somewhere else. They are like ghosts, it is very hard to find them or hurt them.'”
[Kul-Al-Arab (Israeli Arab weekly), January 9, 2009]
Hamas gangs kill Fatah members in Gaza
The popular Palestinian singer, Jamal Najar, condemned Hamas as “gangs of anarchic security forces,” describing how Hamas murdered his cousin right in front of his children, simply for stepping outside.
“I express my condolences to my cousins, some of them were killed yesterday by the gangs of the anarchic [Hamas] security forces in the Gaza Strip… The father was killed right in front of his children, because he didn’t stay at home, after they placed him under house arrest, he and everyone who belongs to Fatah.”
[PATV (Fatah), January 6, 2009]
Hamas kills “dozens of Fatah members” in Gaza
Hamas has murdered “dozens of Fatah members” in the Gaza Strip for merely violating the Hamas-imposed house arrest. According to the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida the atrocities, which also included shooting people in the legs, has created a backlash in the West Bank and caused “anger, which influenced the level of popular activities carried out in solidarity with the Gaza residents in the towns Ramallah and El-Bira.”
The following are excerpts from the article in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and the transcript of the words of Jamal Najar:
Headline: “Reports of persecutions and liquidation of Fatah members by Hamas members evoke anxiety and condemnation in the West Bank.”
“Reports mentioning liquidations of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip by members of Hamas evoked popular condemnation which was added yesterday to the erupting anger, which influenced the level of popular activities carried out in solidarity with the Gaza residents in the towns Ramallah and El-Bira. The reports from Gaza pointed out the death of dozens of Fatah members caused by Hamas members. A prominent leader stated that isolated random incidents of murder have occurred, but ruled out that this is a case of organized persecution.
Wafa A-Najar, a Gaza resident who lives in the town El-Bira, said that her father was killed the day before yesterday and nine of her family members were injured by shooting by Hamas, among them were three small children and two young people in critical condition…
According to the family’s story, a squad belonging to Hamas came to her family’s house in [the] Sheikh Radwan [neighborhood] in Gaza and shot at the legs of young Badran A-Najar, claiming that he was violating the house arrest which was imposed on him, at the time when he was sitting with his cousins in front of the house…
A prominent leader in the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, Ibrahim Abu A-Naja, ruled out that this is a case of persecution by some organization, which aims at Fatah, however he pointed out that ‘a number of isolated incidents’ [of murder] had occurred, as has been reported by the Israeli media…
Abu A-Naja called for Hamas to halt any step which provides Israel the opportunity to attack us…
Groups within the Fatah movement in the West Bank estimated that more than 100 of its people in the Gaza Strip had been exposed to persecution, shooting, and liquidation.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Fatah), Jan. 9, 2009]
Mahmoud Abbas: Hamas responsible for violence
In a news conference from Cairo, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas placed the blame for the violence in the Gaza Strip squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. He described how he repeatedly made contact with Hamas and implored them not to break the ceasefire. He lamented that the violence in the Gaza Strip could have been avoided had Hamas not broken the ceasefire.
The following is Mahmoud Abbas’s statement at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit:
“I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders in Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side… We spoke with them by telephone and we said: ‘We beg of you, we hope that you won’t break [the ceasefire.] As the [Egyptian foreign] Minister said: “Don’t break the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop.” In order to avoid [violence] that has happened. If only we had avoided it.”
[PA TV Dec. 28, 2008]
Theft of ambulances by Hamas
The Goldstone report claimed it could find no evidence that Hamas stole ambulances during the Gaza War:
“The Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes.”
[Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War, Sept. 15, 2009]
However, PMW reported in May that Hamas stole 46 ambulances donated for use in the war and used them as “military vehicles”:
“The [Palestinian] Health Ministry stated yesterday that Hamas militias had raided 46 ambulances, donated by Arab states during the recent aggression on the Gaza Strip, of the medical equipment that they contained… and used them as military vehicles to arrest civilians, after painting [the ambulances] black. The Ministry’s director of public relations and information, Dr. Omar Nasr… said that the medical equipment removed from the ambulances was expensive. He demanded that the Hamas militias declare, courageously and openly, what had become of the thousands of tons of medical equipment which had been brought into the Gaza Strip as assistance for the Palestinian people.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 20, 2009