IDF: Hamas Uses Residential Neighborhood of Shuja’iya as ‘Fortress for its Weapons’

July 21, 2014 11:12 am 5 comments
An IDF map showing the proximity of Shuja'iya, in Gaza, to the Israeli border. Photo: IDF.

An IDF map showing the proximity of Shuja'iya, in Gaza, to the Israeli border. Photo: IDF.

Israel Defense Forces on Sunday said that Hamas is using the residential neighborhood of Shuja’iya, in northern Gaza, as a “fortress for its weapons,” publishing declassified aerial photos showing how rockets are being hidden in mosques, hospitals, playgrounds and cemeteries, as well as a cut-through diagram showing how a mosque and two adjacent buildings, connected by tunnels that extend to the Israeli border, was used as a depot for Hamas rockets.

Shuja’iya was the focus of heavy fighting on Saturday night to close the tunnels that allow militants to infiltrate the Israeli border. In the past 13 days, Hamas has fired over 140 rockets from Shuja’iya into Israel, the IDF said.

It described Shuja’iya as a densely populated neighborhood, close to the Karni Crossing and just over the border from the Israeli community of Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Aerial images from the IDF showing how civilian infrastructure is being used to hide rockets in Shuja'iya, Gaza. Photo: IDF.

Aerial images from the IDF showing how civilian infrastructure is being used to hide rockets in Shuja'iya, Gaza. Photo: IDF.

The IDF said Shuja’iya was “a stronghold for Hamas terrorist activity,” and is “saturated with Hamas observations points and is home to a vast network of tunnels used for attacking Israel.” Meanwhile, Hamas “exploits many of the neighborhood’s mosques as weapons caches as well as launching pits which are used to fire rockets at Israel.”

The IDF said that since the beginning of the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge, IDF soldiers have found 10 openings to terror tunnels in Shuja’iya. “These tunnels are used for infiltrating Israel, smuggling weapons, and launching rockets at Israeli civilians.”

It said that, as well as the proximity to the Israeli border, the density of tunnels and weapons is due to Shuja’iya also being a battleground between Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with their internal turmoil in Gaza brewing since 2007.

“Both terrorist organizations have spent the past seven years actively trying to increase their influence in the neighborhood,” the IDF said. “The rivalry has created an arena in which each organization strives to be regarded as the leaders in the fight against Israel. This has resulted in the neighborhood’s deterioration from a civilian residential area into a terrorist fortress.”

A cut-away diagram of Shuja'iya, Gaza, showing how a mosque is connected to adjacent buildings by tunnels, allowing militants to hide rockets and attack Israel through the underground tunnel network. Photo: IDF.

A cut-away diagram of Shuja'iya, Gaza, showing how a mosque is connected to adjacent buildings by tunnels, allowing militants to hide rockets and attack Israel through the underground tunnel network. Photo: IDF.

The IDF said it had warned civilians in Shuja’iya to evacuate, by “dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages,” although many ignored Israel’s warnings after Hamas instructed them to stay put.

“Hamas knows that Israel is reluctant to attack areas with many civilians,” the IDF said. “The terrorist organization fights from within the civilian population and uses them as human shields. Hamas commanded the residents of Shuja’iya to ignore the IDF’s warning and stay in the neighborhood. By doing so, Hamas ordered them directly in the line of fire.”

The IDF said that as many civilians refused to leave, soldiers operated “in the most precise and surgical way possible, targeting only terrorists and their infrastructure.”

It said, “The IDF agreed to the Red Cross’s request for a two-hour humanitarian window in Shuja’iya. This humanitarian window was opened despite the threats emanating from the neighborhood, including continuous Hamas rocket fire at Israel. Hamas broke the humanitarian window when firing at Israel during the two-hour period. Still, the IDF agreed to the Red Cross appeal to extend the humanitarian window by another hour.”

5 Comments

  • I doubt Israel is even fighting Hamas, problem one it will soon be known as perhaps it was 3 years. Assad is still in power along the time MI said. You all got it wrong. Second what he said in Arabic and the translation is at best editorial. And you don’t do one and then put that clown a the wally box for hour if you don’t want this to end by the barrel of a gun. Problem two. Problem turns out to be true not even the US can save you. Perhaps I expect sanctions. There is a line and you crossed it Netanyahu went against the US launch the ground offensive, the US threats and pressure have not worked as you left the Israeli’s with the lesser evil. Another pr of problem is the 2005 agreement has been mistaken for permission and not prior warning. Due to the special circumstances the US found themselves in Iraq and that was conditional on covert methods, cooperation and leaving window of opportunity. Always leave Israeli’s or anyone really with a another option a simple no and no solutions leads to the lesser evil situation. Then they act, as Netanyahu has done now, as Olmert did in 2007 and as Sharon would have done in 2005. Lack of trust also leads to the lesser evil. Trust is key. As in 2005 we are both entering an agreement in which 8 millions Jews, 160,000 Americans are at stake not to mention the other side. It only can work on trust.

  • Rabbi Yakov Lazaros

    The IDF must clean out this area. This is a war.

    • Clean out? Such a lovely expression for killing people. This is a war… an asymmetrical one, where the innocent people on all sides suffer. Truth is already a casualty with the blame game in full swing and so much propaganda from both sides. Unfortunately for Israel it is impossible to bomb your way to peace, and implausible to insist that there is no alternative or that the end justifies the means.

      • The only thing asymmetric is your attitude. A peace agreement will not end the game, or your attitude. Why should it?

      • How naive, Tim Smith.

        I think the Allies in WW2 bombed their way to peace pretty effectively.

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