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 told the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper that for years Hamas has used their property and homes 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 are excerpts from the article from 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 Sderot, a fact that 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 [fighters], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]
I have yet to hear any human rights organization accuse Hamas of using human shields - they only accuse Israel, as Amnesty International did.
And the "eyewitnesses" who say that the IDF used human shields are suspect, to say the least. A reporter from YNet visited a house in Gaza during the operation where the IDF took over but the family was free to leave, and chose not to. Yet as soon as they saw the reporter they started screaming:
We come across a local family in one of the buildings. Grandparents, a few young parents, some children and a few toddlers. Sitting on a rug, their legs are covered in blankets and two soldiers are standing guard nearby. "What about them?" I ask. "They're free to go if they want to, but they don't want to," said Eilon Perry, Givati's operations officer. "They informed us they would be staying in the house and we have no choice but to accept that."Is there any doubt that this family is now telling every reporter and NGO in sight that they were used as human shields? And is there any doubt that the reporters and "human rights" workers will believe them uncritically and unconditionally, and carefully document their lies in their campaign to gather evidence to bolster their preconceived notions of IDF brutality?
The family suddenly notices the cameras, and immediately, the expression on their faces changes. "We have no food," they say in Arabic, as one of the youngsters suggests we interview him in English about their plight. Givati troops are extremely concerned about being portrayed as abusing innocent civilians. Perry points to a stack of canned goods, water bottles and other provisions. "We provided some of that and they cook and eat quite well," he said. The Palestinians seem to understand him and one of them smiles. It's a war – they had to try.