The IDF has provided some of the clearest evidence to date of Hamas's lowdown tactic of firing rockets from civilian locations, in the confidence that the Israeli military will think twice about striking the launchers, and will be blamed for civilian casualties if it does strike.
The following videos from IDF aerial surveillance shows Hamas firing rockets at Israel from inside a school compound, and from a location inside a cemetery, apparently just dozens of feet from residences.
Israel on Thursday called out a United Nations aid agency for for falsely claimingthat the Israeli Defense Forces did not permit civilians to evacuate a Gaza school where 15 people were killed in an Israeli attack.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) laid blame for the civilian deaths on the IDF, claiming it never received approval from the IDF for an evacuation from the facility.
UNRWA released a statement claiming, “UNRWA had been attempting to negotiate with the [IDF] a pause in the fighting during which they would guarantee a safe corridor to relocate staff and any displaced persons who chose to evacuate to a more secure location. Approval for that never came to UNRWA.”
Multiple IDF sources rejected UNRWA’s claims and characterized them as outright falsehoods when reached by the Washington Free Beacon.
“For two days we were trying to move people out of that school in particular and the Beit Hanoun area in general,” said an IDF official who was involved in the interactions between the IDF, UNRWA, and International Red Cross (ICRC) leading up to the incident.
The official continued, “This morning we sought a ceasefire in the area and a humanitarian evacuation of civilians, but Hamas refused—because they wanted to keep civilians in the area to protect their fighters who were firing on the IDF.”
The claim by UNRWA Gaza Spokesman Chriss Gunness and UNRWA that the IDF did not respond to their request to evacuate civilians, the source said, is “a flat-out complete and total lie,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon.
UNRWA has made headlines in recent days after it was discovered that Hamas stored rockets in its schools in Gaza.
UNRWA found the rockets in one of its vacant schools a week ago. It found a second batch in a vacant school on Tuesday, but said in a statement that because staff were withdrawn quickly, they were "unable to confirm the precise number."
In both cases UNRWA said it "informed the relevant parties," but did not identify who had been contacted.
It was later reported that rather than destroying the rockets, UNRWA workers called Hamas to come remove them.
While UNRWA confirmed the existence of rockets in one of its schools last week, the organization refused an Israeli request to provide a picture of the weapons. A picture could have helped Israel show that Hamas uses civilian institutions to store weapons and launch attacks.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm over the finding of the rockets and directed the world body to deploy experts to deal with the situation