Thursday, March 31, 2011

Confirmed: Hamas and Hezbollah Site Weapons in Densely Populated Civilian Areas

AP photo: Gaza weapons factory blast hurts 50 civilians. 

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, as reported in the NY Times, accuses Hamas of building the weaponry it uses against Israel in the middle of densely populated civilian areas. Running a series of assertions in the midst of their mostly Israel-blasting posts, the PCHR , "...said that it had investigated recent rocket explosions and found that locally produced projectiles had fallen on homes in Gaza or exploded in factories where they were made or stored. Shrapnel severely wounded several people, including a 22-year-old woman and her 7-month-old baby.

"It called on the Hamas government, which controls Gaza, to investigate “and take measures to protect Palestinians and their property.” It added that “members of the Palestinian resistance continue to store explosives or to treat such explosives in locations close to populated areas.”
'“This poses a major threat to the lives of the Palestinian civilians,” it said.
"Israel has long accused Hamas and other groups of endangering Palestinian civilians by carrying out militant activities in densely populated areas.
"Hamdi Shaqura of the rights center said conducting such investigations was risky in Gaza. Militant groups generally deny responsibility. He noted that the Hamas Interior Ministry Web site blamed Israel for the landing of what were locally produced rockets on Palestinian targets."
In a related story, Israel released a map of South Lebanon showing over 1,000 underground bunkers, weapons storage facilities and monitoring sites built by the militant Hezbollah guerrillas.
Part of map released by Israel showing military installations
scattered among villages in South Lebanon

As Haaretz reports, "Israeli intelligence officials believe that the 550 underground bunkers identified have been stocked with weapons transferred from Syria since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, according to the report. The map obtained by the Washington Post also details 300 surveillance sites and 100 other facilities Israel believes belong to Hezbollah militants.
"The map indicates Israel's deep concern regarding relations between Syria and Hezbollah, according to the Washington Post, which cites Israeli officials as having said in interviews that most of Hezbollah’s weapons are secretly transferred from arms depots near Damascus to facilities in southern Lebanon.
"The Washington Post surmised that in releasing the map, the Israel Defense Forces was making a preemptive bid to dispel condemnation of any future Israeli attacks on civilian areas marked in the map.
"A senior Israeli commander told the Washington Post that Israel's interest in providing those details was "to show the world that the Hezbollah organization has turned these villages into fighting zones."

H/T: JG, Caesarea

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