TerroristsIsrael radio photo

Gaza terrorists have found a new way to terrorize residents of southern Israel – by hiding among civilians in residential buildings in Gaza near the security barrier and firing on Israeli homes. Previously terrorists used sniper fire to attack farmers at work near the barrier.

Arutz Sheva spoke to Ashkelon Coast regional chairman Yair Farjun about the latest attacks, which began Friday morning with sniper fire on homes in the farming community of Netiv Haasarah.

The new attacks are particularly frightening because they cannot be predicted and therefore there is no warning, Farjun said. Mortar shell and rocket attacks are often preceded by a Color Red rocket alert, which usually gives a 15-second interval to seek shelter.

In addition, he said, bullets make almost no noise when they hit their target – meaning first response crews are unaware of the attack, which could mean a critical delay in assisting the wounded.

Friday’s terrorist attacks ended in direct hits on two homes and a small local store. In two cases, bullets bounced around an occupied room, changing direction multiple times, but miraculously, did not cause injury.

Previously, a terrorist sniper attack killed a Thai citizen as he worked in fields outside Gaza.

Houses have become a target as well as terrorists make use of upper stories in buildings in Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, Farjun explained.
Their tactic is likely to impede the IDF’s ability to respond, he noted.

“It’s a question of purity of arms,” he said. An immediate strike on the terrorists, the usual response to rocket fire, would be likely to endanger civilians in the same building as the snipers -– a risk IDF commanders want to avoid.

Farjun expressed confidence that the IDF would manage to deal with the problem despite the difficulties involved, and preferably without entering Gaza, an option he described as “less than optimal.”

"Purity of arms" is defined as follows in the IDF's official list of ethics: 

"The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property."

Critics of the approach contend that excessive attempts to avoid killing civilians on the enemy side, especially when terrorists use civilians as human shields while shooting from residential areas and hiding in hospitals,  wind up costing the lives of Israeli soldiers and civilians.