DM: Hamas Responsible for Civilian Deaths

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak held Hamas responsible for civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip Monday.

In an Israel Defense Forces counter-terror operation near the Arab city of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, a tank shell hit a house, killing five members of one family, a 15 year old boy and two Hamas gunmen.

Many of the Kassam rockets fired on Israel are launched from Beit Hanoun.

Palestinian sources reported that nine other civilians were injured, three seriously.

"We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens there, for all injuries in the area around Gaza, all of the strikes," the defense minister said.

"The IDF is acting and will continue to act against Hamas within the Gaza Strip," Barak said.

Hamas and other like-minded terror groups make it a practice to conduct their operations from within residential areas, which sometimes results in the deaths of innocent people.

"Hamas, which operates from inside concentrated populations and stores explosive devices in these areas, is also responsible for some of the civilian casualties in these operations," the defense minister said.

Using women and children as human shields is a tactic Israel has seen for years.

Major Avital Leibovich, an IDF spokesperson, said in Monday's operation, the gunmen opened fire from inside a residential area.

"It's another example of the use of civilians as human shields," she said.

Palestinians vowed to avenge the "Beit Hanoun massacre."

"The Zionist enemy will pay a heavy price for the massacre in Beit Hanoun," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. "The Zionists will not be safe as long as our children are being killed. We shall continue with the resistance and strike the enemy," he told YNet news.

Muhammad Abed al-Aal, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, made similar threats.

"Even while attending peace talks, if we get a chance to kidnap a soldier or kill a Zionist [i.e., a Jew], we will not hesitate to do so," he said.

Meanwhile, Hamas claimed responsibility for launching at least 10 Kassam rockets on southern Israel Monday, one hitting a home and another landing next to a school.

Several people were treated for shock.

Hamas called on other Palestinian terror groups to respond in kind to Monday's civilian deaths, which they called the "new massacre."

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post, YNet news, Haaretz

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Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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