The IDF Spokesperson's Unit often releases videos documenting aerial strikes carried out by the Israeli Air Force that culminate in a powerful blast, but a recent video distributed by the army shows a different resolution: an IAF pilot that was sent on Thursday to attack a terrorist target in the Gaza Strip called off the operation after spotting children approaching the target.
“There are people close to our target,” the pilot is heard saying on the radio. “It looks like there are people, possibly children, in our targeted area.”
|"There are people close to our target, possibly children"|
A military official is then heard responding: “We are not going to strike this target now, let’s move on.” A similar incident was reported by foreign media outlets a week earlier, when the IDF called off an attack after citizens climbed onto the roof of a targeted apartment, acting as human shields.
Israel has come under intense criticism by the foreign media for causing civilian casualties as part of Operation Protective Edge – the condemnations escalated in recent days following reports of a strike on a mosque and a structure that housed elderly people.
The IDF reported yesterday that so far, 160 Palestinians have been killed during the operation, of whom one third were defined as “uninvolved civilians”.
On Thursday, 21 people, among them several terrorists and some who intended to launch rockets, were killed in an IAF strike on a mosque in the neighborhood of Shuja'iyya in the Gaza Strip. The home nearby the mosque belonged to Tayseer al-Batsh, a Hamas police chief in the Strip, who was reportedly severely wounded in the blast.
The IDF reported that despite the high death toll, it “does not view the incident as a work accident.”
At the same time, the IDF is taking extensive steps to reduce civilian casualties, including the "Knock on the roof” procedure, in which forces fire a small mortar at the target to indicate the imminent attack, and distribute leaflets (dropped from planes) regarding the attack.
On Saturday, the army warned Palestinian residents of the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate the area at noon Sunday ahead of planned military operations in the area, and according to a spokesperson for UNRWA in Gaza, some 4,000 Palestinians had evacuated their homes and headed for UN facilities and shelters in the Gaza Strip.
However, Hamas, that seeks to continue to use civilians as human shields, called on residents of the northern Strip to "immediately return" to their home. "You must follow the directives of the Interior Ministry. This is psychological warfare, random messages to instill panic in people," the ministry statement said.
In the past day, the IDF carried out 200 attacks, including 53 attacks on Saturday night from the sea on underground rocket launchers and 11 weapon manufacturing facilities.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has struck 1,320 times in the Gaza Strip, including attacks on 730 rocket launchers, 173 locations suspected as terror tunnels and 32 Hamas government institutions.
During one of the operations, four Shayetet 13 commandos were lightly wounded after they attacked a building in Gaza overnight where, according to the IDF spokesman, dozens of long-range rockets have been fired at Israel reaching the skies over Tel Aviv and even further north.
The specialized incursion force was met with fire from Hamas operatives as they carried out their mission and returned fire. The target was destroyed and the four wounded soldiers were evacuated to Brazili Hospital in Ashkelon.