The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a page from a seized Hamas training manual that supports its case that Palestinian militants deliberately use the cover of residential areas for combat operations, reports Reuters.
Hamas “dismissed the document as a forgery intended to justify Israeli attacks.”
The IDF said troops working inside the enclave discovered the training manual in Beit Hanoun at the end of July. In its entirety, the manual is 102 pages long, but Israel only released one page.
That one page sets forth guidelines on hiding weapons and ammunition in places occupied by civilians, transporting them inside edifices, and disguising explosives.
It is marked at the bottom with “Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Training and Guidance Branch, Engineering Corps.” The al-Qassam Brigades are the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007.
“The process of hiding ammunition inside buildings is intended for ambushes in residential areas and to move the campaign from open areas into built up and closed areas,” states the document, which is in Arabic.
It goes on to say that “residents of the area should be used to bring in the equipment,” and it adds that “for jihad fighters, it is easy to operate inside buildings and take advantage of this to avoid (Israeli) spy planes and attack drones.”
The guidelines also explain that “the action of hiding weapons inside a building must be carried out secretly and shouldn’t have a military character.”
An IDF spokesman gave no more specifics, only asserting that the army is “extremely confident it is a Hamas training manual.”
Israel has frequently accused Hamas fighters of taking cover among civilians and operating from residential areas.
Some journalists in Gaza during the war captured video footage of rockets being fired from built-up areas, including around Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital. Hamas has sought to dismiss those as isolated, one-off incidents or attacks carried out by rogue groups not under its control.
For its part, Israel drops leaflets on residential areas before any attack and makes phone calls to residents telling them to leave the area. On Saturday, the Israeli air force warned residents to leave a 13-story apartment building before it was destroyed in an air strike. Israel said the building was a Hamas base.