IDF holds fire and starts concluding operation. Givati Brigade Commander Colonel Ilan Malka said Monday that "there was not excessive use of fire" during the Israel Defense Forces operation
According to Malka, who operated with his soldiers in the Zeituon neighborhood in northern Gaza City, "In brigade's area it's safe to say that we clearly defeated Hamas."
The colonel pointed out that during the previous IDF operation in Gaza at the start of 2008, two of the brigade's fighters were killed by fire opened from within a house.
"I will not send 10 soldiers to a house that is suspected of being booby-trapped to have them blow up inside it. If Hamas wanted to protect the family inside, it wouldn't have booby-trapped the house," he said.
The colonel also addressed claims that the IDF had struck facilities belonging to the United Nations. He said the army knew where these facilities were located and marked them so as not to target them.
"No one fired at that facility intentionally," he stressed.
As for the damage caused to an UNRWA facility, he said the incident was being investigated but that inquiries held so far had revealed that a smoke bomb had been fired at the facility in order to create a camouflage which would protect the tanks from antitank missiles.
In another incident, he claimed, gunmen fired from a Red Crescent medical facility and the forces fired back. "When the place caught fire, we immediately stopped firing and allowed the ambulances to treat whoever was in need of treatment and allowed all people to leave safely.
"We are not fighting against citizens. Our goal was not to kill civilians, but the moment we are fired on from public places, those places are no longer immune."
According to Malka, the forces dealt with a huge amount of weapons. "We found in the houses entire bunkers under the beds, with mortar shells, pistols, communication devices. Basically an entire city of weapons and explosives. We operated in an area filled with enemies, ditches and tunnels, and fulfilled the assignment properly."
The Givati commander admitted that some of his troops had expressed their feelings that the operations against Hamas could have continued.
"It's okay to hear such voices. This is what I expect from commanders, to want to move forward and continue fighting. We were tasked with a mission and we fulfilled it as best as we could."
The Givati fighters also operated in a neighborhood with urban features, including high buildings, neighborhoods and public facilities. The commander spoke of massive fire on Hamas' part in an attempt to hit the forces, including attempts to come out of the tunnels and carry out terror attacks among the soldiers.