Israeli study says Hamas ‘used civilians as human shields’ in Gaza 15Mar10 March 16, 2010

by Johnny Singer  -  Haaretz -  15 March 2010

Hamas used civilians as human shields during last year’s Gaza war, according to a study published on Monday.

The 500-page document, compiled by the Israeli non-profit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, aims to highlight the failings of the UN’s Goldstone report into Israel’s three week Gaza offensive last year, which accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes.

In its findings, the ITIC claimed Hamas fighters used children to mask their escape from combat zones.

Hamas used mosques, hospitals and schools as to store weapons and as rocket launch sites, researchers said. Militants also booby-trapped a school and exchanged their uniforms for civilian clothing during fighting with Israeli troops.

The UN report, compiled by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone, was a “conscious attempt to serve a central, premeditated thesis”, the ITIC said, accusing the UN of a “complete lack of balance” and “systematic pro-Palestinian bias”.

According to the ITIC, most of the 1,166 Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead were Hamas fighters.

“At least 60 percent of the casualties were terrorist operatives actively engaged in the fighting,” it said.

Goldstone’s report, in contrast, estimated the portion of fighters killed at 20 per cent, with the remainder civilians.

Both the IDF and the security service Shin Bet, who had declined to testify in the Goldstone inquiry, provided evidence for the study, which also drew on interrogations of Hamas militants and information from the Hamas media, as well documents seized during the offensive.

The report did not examine Israeli actions during the fighting, which were severely criticized by Goldstone, instead concentrating on Hamas in an effort to contrast “the main findings of the Goldstone report with the factual findings”.

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