Hamas victim offensive gets a boost
Israeli tank shells killed more than 40 Palestinians on Tuesday at a U.N. school where civilians had taken shelter, medical officials said, in carnage likely to boost international pressure on Israel to halt a Gaza offensive.The Reuters reporter has swerved into the Hamas strategy. Hamas has been trying to get just such an event to boost its media strategy of playing the victim. Their strategy all along has sought noncombatant casualties in Israel and Gaza. It appears their strategy of placing their terrorist in with the noncombatants has finally yielded some result.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into information on the incident at al-Fakhora school in Jabalya refugee camp, on the fourth day of a ground assault launched after a week of air strikes failed to end Hamas rocket salvoes.
People cut down by shrapnel lay in pools of blood in the street. Witnesses said two Israeli tanks shells exploded outside the school, killing at least 42 civilians and wounding dozens -- Palestinians who had taken refuge there and residents of nearby buildings.
A senior U.N. official insaid 350 people had been sheltering at the school and the United Nations regularly gave the Israeli army exact geographical coordinates of its facilities to try to keep them safe from attack.
, asked by reporters about the deaths, said she was "not familiar" with the incident.
"Unfortunately, (Hamas fighters) are hiding amongst civilians," she said, adding that Israel was trying to avoid civilian casualties.
In a separate attack earlier in the day, three Palestinians were killed in an air strike on another school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The deaths in Gaza, home to 1.5 million people, raised to 77 the number of Palestinian civilians killed on Tuesday alone, according to medical officials.
The spike in civilian casualties could prove to be a turning point in Israel's "Operation Cast Lead," launched on December 27 with the declared aim of removing the Hamas rocket threat.
The killing of dozens of unarmed Lebanese in Israel's bombing in the village of Qana in the 2006 Lebanon war drained foreign support for its campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas. Israel said it had not known civilians were in the area.
It is curious that some in the media allow themselves to be manipulated by the Hamas death cult in this way. If Israel tried such blatant manipulation the media would be in high dudgeon. Instead, it appears the media is starting to work itself into high dudgeon because of the success of the Hamas victim strategy which mirrors the Hezballah victim strategy.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the IDF was responding to mortar attacks at the location.
At least 30 people were reportedly killed and 53 wounded in an explosion in a UN-run school in the town of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinians. The IDF issued a statement saying the school grounds were used by terrorists to fire mortar shells at the troops. According to the IDF, among the dead were members of a Hamas launching cell, including operatives Immad Abu Askar and Hassan Abu Askar.This appears to be consistent with the Hamas strategy of inducing civilian casualties in hopes of creating a victim offensive. It is a sign that they are losing the kinetic battle and are switching to the media battle space.
The infantrymen returned mortar shell fire into the school grounds, the army said. Defense officials told The Associated Press that booby-trapped bombs in the school triggered the secondary explosions which killed scores of Palestinians on the site.
The IDF released a video taken by a UAV in the end of 2007 showing terrorists firing mortar shells from right outside the school.
I suspect, based on this report that the artillery fired by the IDF was programed by counter battery radar which is set to immediately return fire on mortar positions. This is done to counter the Hamas shoot and scoot tactics with mortars. This looks very much like a Hamas attempt to create an atrocity to blame on the Israelis.
CNN has more on the UN schools caught in the crossfire. No one should discount Hamas's cynical use of these facilities to induce noncombatant casualties.