It was clear that the shooters felt at ease among the civilians
During my final service period in the Counter Terror K-9 unit, I was stationed in the Gaza Strip area. It was before the Gaza Disengagement (the 2004 unilateral withdrawal of all IDF forces and Israeli settlements from the entire Gaza Strip), and we had daily operations directed to stop the terror organization efforts to smuggle weapons and rockets into Gaza and carry out terror attacks. As dog handlers our mission was to join other forces in operations and to be the first ones to enter a house to make sure it is clear from terrorists or explosives. I remember one operation in particular in which I joined a Golani Brigade (infantry) unit where we conducted an “Almanat Kash” (setting an observation and fire outpost in a local apartment building). Besides my dog handling training I was also a sharpshooter, so I was able to join and help the team in manning the posts.
When it was my turn to take over I saw what was going on down on the street and it was apparent that one of the forces’ location was revealed. The street was full of civilians in the middle of a violent protest that included shouting, rioting and rock throwing at our forces. Among the civilians, who also included women and children, I identified three or four armed men with AK-47, firing at our revealed force from between the civilians. From my still uncovered post I could clearly see one of the armed men, standing in the middle of the commotion and firing. It was clear that the shooters felt at ease among the civilians. Though they were changing locations from time to time, they did not act like they were in combat and could potentially get hurt. We were in a tough situation, we were not able to take down the shooters without risking hitting civilians. I’m sure that they (the shooters) knew what was going on in our heads, and that they are more or less safe.
The thing that shocked me the most was the understanding of the distorted reality in Gaza. When you compare that child you just saw in the street to the little kid you once were, you think of how he can just stay there when a person is shooting right over his head. The kid stays there, against all natural instinct to run for cover, and acts like there is nothing wrong with this situation. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case, it was one of many cases that represents the terror organizations’ methods.