Rocket barrage from Gaza
Rocket barrage from GazaReuters

An Indian TV crew has captured rare footage illustrating how Hamas fires rockets from densely-populated civilian areas - but only after its operatives are safely out of the firing zone.

India's NDTV managed to secretly film a group of terrorists planting a rocket launchpad just meters away from their hotel, "bang in the middle of what is a residential area full of hotels and apartment buildings."

Watch - Indian TV crew films Hamas firing rocket in civilian area:

It was not initially clear what the men caught on camera were doing, as they had erected a blue tent over the area in which they were working and covered up the evidence with foliage and mud before leaving. But the sharp-eyed Indian crew's suspicion was aroused - suspicion which turned out to be well-founded, when a rocket was launched from that very spot as part of a last-minute barrage before a 72-hour ceasefire with Israel went into effect. 

The missile had apparently been timed to go off automatically a day after being set, ensuring the terrorists who planted it were safe from retaliation.

Not so for local civilians. As the reporter notes, by planting rockets in heavily-populated civilian areas Hamas risks the lives of residents living in the area.

"You see that this is an area very heavily built up - a lot of residential and hotel buildings all around, and so if Hamas does fire a rocket from here it will have immediate consequences for everyone around here."

He added that it was not the first time that spot had been used to fire rockets; his hotel had been evacuated the first night his crew arrived after a rocket was fired from there. The IDF warned it might retaliate, but in the end did not - most likely because the terrorists were long-gone by then as well.

Israel has long accused Gazan terrorist groups of committing a "double war crime" by on the one hand targeting Israeli civilians, while on the other hand deliberately endangering Gazan civilians by using them as human shields, both in order to protect terrorists from retaliation, as well as to use the mounting civilian death toll for propaganda purposes.

The NDTV correspondent who covered the events noted that there could be "serious security consequences" for him doing so. Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers forbid foreign correspondents from reporting on anything which might reflect negatively on them - including its use of human shields - and those who do stray from the official line can face threats or worse. The report was itself only filed once the NDTV crew had already left Gaza.

That, of course, raises questions over the accuracy of foreign media reports from Gaza, where official Hamas figures and "testimonies" about civilian casualties are repeated without scrutiny - with only a few rare exceptions which, even then, can only happen once journalists have left Gaza.