Hamas Endorses Using Civilians as 'Human Shields' in Acquired Manual

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A Palestinian boy and his father look at the house of top Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar which police said was targeted by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
A Palestinian boy stands with his father as they look at the house of top Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar which police said was targeted by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

The Israeli military has acquired a copy of a manual of Hamas' urban warfare. The manual carried the title, "Introduction to City War" and justified the benefits of civilian casualties including the open admission that Israel avoids endangering them.

According to reports, the Israel Defence Forces said that the manual, whose cover showed militants wielding weapons, discusses the value of civilian deaths. Hamas believes that the destruction of civilian homes "increases the hatred of citizens towards attackers" and motivates them to support defenders of the city.

The manual obtained from the Shuja'iya Brigade of Hamas' military wing also explains how heavily populated urban areas make it difficult for Israeli forces to attack since they try to avoid harming civilians.

In its website, the IDF claims Hamas exploits civilians and use them as "human shields" based on the contents of the manual. Israeli forces have fought a "major battle" with the Hamas in Shuja'ita which has been converted into a terrorist stronghold. The manual's discovery suggests destroying the city was "part of Hamas' plan."

Israel had withdrawn the last of its remaining ground troops from Gaza last August 5 as part of the 72-hour ceasefire negotiated by Egypt. This has set the stage for peace talks on a broader stage for a long-term truce and reconstruction of the battered territory.

Reports said if the ceasefire holds, it will be the longest break from the fighting. The conflict has killed almost 1,900 Palestinians. The IDF claims 900 of them were militants. Israel lost 67 people and only three of those were civilians while the rest were soldiers.

Meanwhile, Hamas and Israel has backed up a plan calling for the Palestinian Authority to take over in policing the Gaza Strip. Observers said this may be a sign that negotiators may be ready to consider proposals to prevent another major military battle in indirect talks held in Cairo, Egypt.

Hamas spokesman Mosheer Al Masri said his group will support the takeover of Palestinian Authority forces in guarding the borders of Gaza. However, negotiators might have to come up with a plan to overcome a potential obstacle. Hamas wants to maintain its military wing's role in defending Gaza borders against Israel. This goes against the Israelis' demands which is to disarm all militants. 

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