Throughout Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Security Agency interrogated dozens of Hamas terrorists who fought against IDF forces in Gaza. Several of these operatives admitted to using civilian buildings as cover for their military activity.
While being interrogated by the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet Security Service), Hamas terrorists confessed to using mosques and hospitals as hiding places during Operation Protective Edge. According to their testimony, they also built tunnels, launching sites and weapons-storage facilities near playgrounds in Gaza.
During a recent ISA interrogation, terrorist Abd Al-Rahman Ba’aloosha said Hamas regularly gathered its fighters in the Al-Safa and Al-Abra mosques of Khan Yunis. According to Ba’aloosha, Hamas operatives repeatedly met inside of a bunker located underneath the Al-Abra mosque. Another terrorist told Israeli investigators that Hamas first recruited him during a meeting inside of Al-Abra.
Several Hamas fighters said that the terrorist organization used mosques to train operatives and hide explosives. Mohammed Ramadan recalled that Hamas commanders taught him to fire anti-tank missiles inside the Al-Shafi’i mosque in Khan Yunis. The mosque, he said, served as a training base for the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, the IDF uncovered significant evidence indicating that Hamas used mosques for terror purposes. On several occasions, Israeli forces documented rocket launches from inside mosques or nearby areas. While searching one mosque in Gaza, soldiers uncovered dozens of weapons and shafts leading into underground attack tunnels.
During the ISA’s interrogations, one terrorist confessed that mosques were used to hide guns, RPGs and other kinds of weaponry. Another Hamas operative admitted that hospitals and schools – including the Nasser and Hilal hospitals of Khan Yunis – were used for the same purposes.
Tunnels near playgrounds and weapons in hospitals
According to terrorists Afif and Ahmed Jarrah, Hamas built an attack tunnel just steps away from a playground in Beit Lahia. Another Hamas operative told investigators that he helped dig a similar tunnel near a medical clinic. He added that terrorists planned to hold IDF soldiers hostage in a Gazan playground had they successfully carried out a kidnapping.
Another terrorist said it was “widely known” that senior Hamas operatives had been hiding inside of Gaza’s hospitals. During his interrogation, he explained that armed bodyguards protected Hamas’ leaders in medical facilities. He also confirmed that senior terrorists were hiding inside of Shifa hospital, surrounded by guards dressed in civilian clothing.
As IDF footage shows, Hamas uses medical centers for military purposes in order to shield itself from IDF strikes – and to draw international condemnation of Israel if the IDF is forced to respond. Hamas transformed Wafa Hospital, a civilian building in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza City, into a command center, rocket-launching site, observation point, sniper’s post, weapons storage facility, cover for tunnel infrastructure, and a general base for attacks against Israel and IDF forces. As seen in the video below, it repeatedly opened fire from hospital windows and used anti-tank missiles from the premises.
Samir Abu Luli, another terrorist interrogated by Israel, admitted that Hamas’ police officers had been stationed in the Al-Najar Hospital of Rafah since the beginning of the operation. He said the officers repeatedly closed areas of the hospital and prevented patients’ family members from entering. Nafez Shaluf, an operative from Rafia, added that operatives of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad frequently hid in Al-Najar. On one occasion, he saw terrorists throwing patients out of the hospital and into the street.
The ISA’s interrogations confirm what Israel has always known about Hamas. The terrorist organization shamelessly exploits Gaza’s population as a cover for its terror activity. By attacking Israel from homes, hospitals, schools and mosques, terrorists endanger Gaza’s populated areas and turn civilians into human shields.