A slide, a swing, a rocket launcher
In the summer of 2014 I took part in Operation Protective Edge, as a Combat Commander of an armored division. As part of my duties, I was based in the division HQ and managed the different combat efforts alongside other senior staff. It was a serious task. A division is a rather big operation to run and manage. During the ongoing fighting that took place for over a month, there were many times when Hamas used civilian infrastructures for warfare purposes such as missile launching grounds, weapons storage and other purposes that served its terror infrastructure. I have witnessed many times such use of mosques, UNRWA clinics, schools and kindergartens. Hamas knows the IDF war practices and moral principles regarding such locations and that it is highly sensitive and hopes that we would refrain from responding to attacks coming from those locations.
I wish now to refer to a specific incident that was especially clear, although as I mentioned, was not uncommon. Using various methods, we identified a rocket launch placed in the middle of a kindergarten playground in a neighborhood in northern Gaza. Hamas’s had planned to launch the missiles using a timer or remote control cable since they knew that as soon as they launched the missile, we would locate its location and attack it. In this case, they were using both a remote launch, as well as a kindergarten playground, as an attack location. They did that because they understood that we would not knowingly attack this launch location. This entire incident was documented by drone and we recorded the launch coming straight out of the kindergarten. To say this was a complete surprise for us? Not really. We are all familiar with this human shield practice used by Hamas for years now. Hamas has mastered this practice. Yet, every time, I find myself shocked by another red line that they cross.
In the IDF, we mark our maps with all those “sensitive locations”, all the hospitals, mosques, kindergartens, schools, etc. During attacks, as soon as we spot a launch, we determine its location and can immediately watch it on our monitors. You watch and see a children’s slide, next to it the kindergarten, and in between there is a rocket launcher. I hope that during that specific time there are no children at the kindergarten. However, we know that Hamas does not choose these locations randomly, they know that those places are marked “sensitive” on our maps. They deliberately put the rocket launchers between the swing and the slide. You watch this on the monitor and cannot escape the thought of “oh my God, they are using children as part of this war”.