Israel Girds for Next Round of Battle in Gaza Strip by Barbara Opall-Rome - Defense News
Israel on Thursday released detailed intelligence on how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in the coastal strip to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers from which the Jewish state says the group plans to wage urban war against it.
Israel released the intel to make its case for what it insists is an unwanted, yet potentially necessary new round of combat in Gaza.
Briefing reporters here, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence ― complete with geolocation target coordinates ― that he insists prove “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.”
During the highly unusual briefing aimed at bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods, Zamir insisted Israel possesses “many more such targets beyond what we’re showing you.”
He repeatedly referred to the structures ― one a six-story building and private parking lot with access to a tunnel network, and the other a family home with an entrance to a tunnel that connects to a nearby mosque ― as legitimate targets. “I say these are legitimate military targets, and whoever is endangering himself and his family needs to hold Hamas responsible for what happens,” he said.
The IDF commander said Israel is “fully aware” of the humanitarian distress to the nearly 2 million residents of Gaza, many of whom are subsisting at below poverty levels with a mere four hours of electricity each day. If Israel has to act, Zamir said, it will do so with technology, tactics and procedures aimed at minimizing the so-called collateral damage to uninvolved civilians.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged that civilians would be harmed, which is exactly what Hamas and other Gaza-based groups are counting on “in order to try to damage Israel’s legitimacy.” …