‘Israel Is Using Missiles to Protect Its People, Hamas Is Using Its People to Protect Its Rockets,’ Says Palestinian Human Rights Activist
Bassem Eid is a Palestinian living in eastern Jerusalem who spent many years living in a United Nations refugee camp in the 1960s, and during his earlier years his research focused on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces. In recent years, the human rights activist has focused his attention on rights violations by Palestinian armed forces.
In the conflict this month, Eid has blamed Hamas for the barrage of rockets fired at Israel, as well as for the innocent Palestinian lives lost to both retaliatory Israeli airstrikes and the militant group’s own missiles that fell short in Gaza.
“The main difference between Israel and Hamas: Israel is using missiles to protect its people while Hamas is using its people to protect its rockets,” Eid told The Algemeiner. “Hamas does not care where these missiles land.”
Eid estimates based on his own Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip that more than 50 Palestinians died because of errant rockets by the Hamas that were targeted towards Israel but which landed in Gaza. According to the Israeli army, about 4,340 rockets were fired by Hamas toward Israel during the 11 days of hostilities, with 640 of them falling within Gaza.
In response to the rocket barrage, Israel struck a total of 1,600 military targets, including 340 rocket launchers and destroyed more than 60 miles of underground terror tunnels in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claims that about 250 Palestinians were killed during the hostilities.
“At the moment it is still very difficult to assess the exact death toll in Gaza as Hamas is still looking for and evacuating casualties from underground and within the struck tunnels, so the figure is likely to increase,” Eid said. “The Hamas claim is that most of the casualties were civilians as the statistics they publish doesn’t distinguish between civilians and fighters. According to my estimates at least 150 fighters were killed in the conflict.”
“This time Israel’s military action was much more careful if you look at the number of targets hit and the casualties, which shows that they tried to minimize the killing of civilians,” he added.
Commenting on the diplomatic efforts by the international community following the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which came into effect on May 21, Eid believes that the focus will be to make sure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction of Gaza to rebuild military capabilities.
During a regional visit on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US would provide new aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip, including $5.5 in immediate disaster relief and $33 million for a UN Palestinian aid agency, and pledged that the US would seek to make sure that Hamas did not benefit from those funds.
“The international community is now aware of what is going on in Gaza and that something wrong happened there, which needs to come under control,” Eid said. “The US administration, the Egyptian side, Jordan and other Arab countries understand that the reconstruction of Gaza needs to be under huge control.”