The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

Profs. Siboni and Inbar: Hamas commits international war crimes by striking Israel’s civilian community centres and by using humans as a shield against counter-attack.

Jitesh Vachhatani, Republic TV (India), 16.05.2021

As Israel continues its counter operations against Hamas, security experts from Jerusalem have decried the Palestinian militant organization’s method of using humans as shields against the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Terming the method as ‘victim doctrine,’ Prof. Colonel Gabi Siboni, an expert on cybersecurity & military strategy said that Hamas has been encouraging the possibility of civilians being hit so that they can present themselves as victims of the counter-attack. He added that while the alarms of a possible ceasefire have already been sounded by the international community, it is unlikely to happen until Israel achieves its ‘goals’.

“I think Israel has still not achieved its strategic and operational goals. As I understand there are many requests from our friends that have begun talking about a ceasefire. Israel will continue targeting Hamas’ military infrastructure. So that we achieve our minimal goals before the ceasefire. 

“Hamas has developed, what I would like to call, victim doctrine. It means that they are encouraging the possibility that civilians would be hit, to make sure that once they are hit they can present themselves as victims. This has been used for many years,” Professor Siboni told Republic Media Network on Sunday. 

Echoing similar views, Professor Efraim Inbar from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security said that Hamas has been committing international war crimes by striking Israel’s civilian community centres and by using humans as a shield against the counter-attack. Detailing on IDF’s approach, Professor Efraim Inbar said that the IDF has been primarily targetting Hamas’ military establishments which includes the headquarters of Hamas, R&D places, infrastructure to built missiles and also commandant and communication system. 

“There is no ground operation yet. I would like to point out that we are sorry about civilian losses but the moral responsibility of those losses lies on Hamas. They started the war, they started shooting the missiles at Israeli civilian population centres. This is one crime against international law concerning warfare and they are committing another war crime by hiding behind civilians which is also against international law. We are primarily targetting military targets,” Professor Efraim Inbar said. 

He added that all the targets are decided after consultation with IDF lawyers and that a warning is also issued to ensure that the building or occupation is vacated before the strike takes place. “We take all precautions to minimise the number of civilian casualties. It is well known if the target is a building, we call to ensure that it evacuated. We also another method to hit on the roof,” the security expert said.

In response to the 600 rockets fired by Hamas aimed at Israel on Saturday night, the IDF claimed that it has struck military assets in Hamas’ intelligence unit. The IDF said that the headquarters in northern Gaza which was attacked today has harmed the terrorist organization’s central infrastructure. 

On the contrary, the Gaza Health Ministry has said that the death toll from Israeli strikes on the main thoroughfare in Gaza City has climbed to 33, including 12 women and eight children. It was the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers erupted nearly a week ago. The ministry says another 50 people were wounded in the strikes early Sunday, mostly women and children. The IDF is yet to comment on the same.

The tensions began in east Jerusalem earlier this month when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews. Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 3,000 rockets, though most have either fallen short or been intercepted by anti-missile defenses i.e. the Iron Dome.