Hamas leaders again ‘hiding under hospital’

Gen. Eliezer Marom, the former head of the Israel Navy, tells Channel 2 that Hamas leaders in Gaza are again hiding from Israel under the wards of Gaza’s main Shifa hospital.

Marom, the navy chief from 2007-11, is reviving an allegation that Israeli officials also made at the time of 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eli Marom, the former commander of the Israeli Navy. (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eli Marom, the former commander of the Israeli Navy. (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

In the same studio discussion, another retired general, ex-IDF Military Intelligence chief Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, cautions against an exaggerated ground offensive, but does advocate a limited incursion into Gaza — to get to underground rocket-launchers and stockpiles, and other specific targets that cannot be hit from the air. Marom, by contrast, advocates a far wider ground offensive.

Channel 2 is reporting that Hamas has spent the time since the 2012 conflict emplacing launchers and arms stockpiles near schools, mosques and UNRWA facilities, and in apartment buildings — hoping that the local population will serve as human shields that will prevent Israel from targeting its weaponry.

Israeli military officials, including Chief of the General Staff Benny Gantz, have said repeatedly in recent days that Hamas terrorists are hiding out “in tunnels.”

In an article in February, ToI’s David Horovitz detailed Hamas’s much improved missile capabilities, and its use of underground tunnels. “Hamas has also committed considerable resources to the construction of a substantial network of tunnels — dozens of miles of underground networks in key areas of the Strip — which will immensely complicate future military confrontations for Israel,” he wrote.

“Hamas will use the tunnels to plant mines targeting Israeli land forces, the Israeli military believes. It will use the network of tunnels to move its gunmen undetected from place to place during warfare. The Israeli military further anticipates that Hamas will fire rockets from underground launchers, making them far harder to detect and target. Moreover, the Hamas command and communication facilities will be located underground, enabling it to seek to maintain effective control out of reach of Israeli air power. Finally, the Hamas leadership, which the Israeli army said in the past had taken refuge in underground bunkers beneath hospitals and other civilian facilities, will also utilize these more-sophisticated underground facilities.”

Horovitz added that “the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers have invested heavily in producing their own M-75 rockets, with a range of 75 kilometers and more… This means that the next round of conflict with Gaza will be focused on central Israel, with the Israeli military braced to defend the heart of the country against unprecedented salvos of M-75s directed at Tel Aviv, the rest of central Israel, and Jerusalem.”

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