Human rights group confirms Gaza terrorists use civilians as ‘human shields’

Click photo to download. Caption: A rocket that fell in an Eshkol Regional Council field during the latest conflict with Hamas. Credit: Ronit Minaker.( Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report that detailed how Gaza terrorists, during their conflict with Israel last month, fired rockets from densely populated civilian areas such as “homes, businesses, and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire.” This confirms a long-held Israeli claim that Gaza terrorists use Palestinian civilians as “human shields” to fire rockets at Israel.

HRW—a George Soros-funded group that has also been critical of Israel—this time accused Gaza terrorist groups of violating international humanitarian law and committing war crimes by launching thousands of rockets toward population centers in Israel during the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense.

About 1,500 rockets were fired at Israel from Nov. 14-21, killing three Israel civilians and wounding at least 38.

“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

HRW named Hamas’s Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s Saraya al-Quds Brigades, and the Popular Resistance Committee’s Nasser Salahaddin Brigades as the terrorist groups behind the attacks.

According to information collected by HRW through interviews and second-hand reports with Gaza civilians, terrorist groups seem to have “fired rockets from underground tunnels, opening a hatch to launch the munition.”

Many of these underground tunnels and hatches were fired from civilian areas, such as one rocket launch near an office building for international media outlets on Nov. 20.

“I saw it [the rocket] go up and heard it, and then smoke was in the office,” a witness told HRW.

The report also confirmed Iran’s involvement in the conflict and accused Iran of “aiding and abetting of war crimes” by knowingly supplying materials such as the Fajr-5 rocket or expertise to terrorist groups with intent to commit war crimes. HRW's citation of Iran's role in funding Middle East terrorism comes after the Wall Street Journal had reported earlier this month that Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director, said Iran’s statements about Israel “are certainly reprehensible, but they are not incitement to genocide,” adding that “no one has acted” on those statements.

Posted on December 24, 2012 .