The building also housed a dental clinic that was closed due to the fighting. “But we called the owners and made sure they came to get their supplies.”“We don’t try to destroy just because. We want to cause minimal damage to civilians but we won’t give up just because it’s in a civilian building in a civilian area. We didn’t have a choice,” he said.T. told the Post that his role was to use all the intelligence available to make sure that there were no civilian casualties in the strikes targeting the infrastructure of the groups.“The planning is very precise and we use our intelligence to reach those who live in the buildings and those surrounding it to make sure that they leave” before the IAF carries out a warning hit on the roof of the building known as “knocking on the roof” right ahead of the strike.That warning “does not give Hamas the time to take out anything from the building,” he said.Lt.-Col. T told The Jerusalem Post that it was Hamas and PIJ who were attacking Israel with long-range missiles and “we struck back because we were attacked.”According to him, Israel “had better intelligence that was more precise,” and that caused less civilian casualties and more combat casualties.The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said at least 243 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, including 66 children and teens, with 1,910 people wounded.
The Israeli military says over 100 operatives belonging to the terror groups were killed and that some of the civilian casualties were caused by Hamas rockets falling short or civilian homes collapsing after an airstrike on Hamas’s tunnel network.In the first interview since the fighting ended, Sinwar told the Associated Press last week that 80 operatives were killed during the fighting-57 from Hamas and 22 from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Lieutenant (Res) E, a firepower officer in a strike team was responsible for coordinating the intelligence on the military infrastructure belonging to Hamas with the IAF in real-time during the fighting. Her main goal, she said, was to hit terror targets without damaging non-terror infrastructure or killing anyone-both combatants and civilians.
According to Lt. E. there are several kinds of strikes, those targeting people and others hitting military infrastructure.“Even if we knew that there was someone who was an operative we did everything we could to make sure the area was empty, clean. If there was an operative we would get him in another way, another strike,” she said.Each strike can take hours in order to make sure that innocent civilians were not harmed, she said, adding that there were several times that the IDF called off an airstrike “because civilians were in the area. We did that in real-time.”Lt. E told the Post that following the knock of roof warning, “Hamas understands that we were preparing to strike and won’t approach the area. It’s not new to them. It’s not that they don’t know we are going to strike. They know and they leave the area.”According to Lt. E, the terror groups “don’t have the time to take their weapons.
There’s not really any time in the short period that we give them to take their infrastructure. It’s not just one rocket or one laptop… But should anyone approach the area, we understand that it’s terror-related.”The decision to place military infrastructure in civilian areas goes against the Law of Armed Conflict, but according to Lt.E, “it’s not that they don’t care, they take advantage.”“Hamas places their military infrastructure to civilian infrastructure and if we hit a building that has munitions inside, the IDF can’t control the explosion,” she said. Hamas’s underground “Metro” tunnel network was also heavily damaged over the course of several nights of airstrikes. Military sources said that they were able to map the network consisting of hundreds of kilometers under residential areas to a degree where they knew almost everything about them.
The mapping of Hamas’s underground network was done by a massive intelligence-gathering process that was helped by the technological developments and use of Big Data to fuse all the intelligence. Once mapped, the IDF was able to have a full picture of the network both above and below ground with details such as the depth of the tunnels, their thickness and the nature of the routes. With that, the military was able to construct an attack plan that was used during the operation.While the IDF acknowledges that they haven’t destroyed the entire network, they assert that they struck parts of the network that make it nearly impossible for Hamas to use again.
And, the ability of the IDF to crack Hamas’s network and completely map it, removes one of the central dimensions of Hamas’s combat strategy.”Years of work, out-of-the-box thinking and the fusion of all the power of the intelligence division together with elements in the field led to the breakthrough solution of the underground,” a senior officer in the intelligence division said last week.Staff Sgt. E. worked on the plan for four months before the fighting broke out and was surprised when she heard the network was going to be hit.“I didn’t think it was going to happen until the planes were in the sky,” she told the Post. “During the strikes, we were surprised..a lot of people worked on this for years.”The fighting, she said, was “very dynamic” and they were always preparing what was going to be hit next.“I think at the end of the day, Hamas was surprised as to how much we knew about their underground network, they didn’t expect it,” St.-Sgt. E said, adding that “we showed the enemy that they can’t do everything that they want without us knowing.”But according to Hamas chief Yayha Sinwar, Israel only destroyed 5% of their network as the group has over 500 kilometers of tunnels under the blockaded enclave.“Israel failed to direct a strike to kill the political, military, and security leadership [of Palestinian resistance groups] and destroy their command and control rooms,” he told journalists in Gaza after the ceasefire came into effect.
Sinwar also warned that the Islamic terror group has 10,000 “martyrs” inside Israel who are “ready to respond” if Jerusalem is harmed.St.-Sgt. E, from Ashdod, told the Post that she had to separate herself from the rocket attacks that were targeting her home.“There are rockets flying over my house and I was sitting here being professional and not with my family in our shelter. I had to separate myself from what was happening-from what was happening to my family and my country so that I could do my job.”In an interview with Channel 12 News, the head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza Matthias Schmale acknowledged that while the “viciousness and ferocity of the strikes was heavily felt,” he had “the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck.”According to Lt.-Col. T, the strikes “caused a lot of damage to their infrastructure and manufacturing. In my opinion, the strikes were more effective than those in 2014, despite the fact that the war was longer.
”Though the ceasefire was signed “we could have continued for a long time, we were ready then and we can continue now if they launch rockets,” he added.According to Lt.-E, Hamas does not differentiate between targets, “everything is kosher for them,” including the launching of rockets towards Jerusalem that brought about this round of fighting.“The IDF would not have let rockets hit the Temple Mount,” Lt.E said. “The difference between Israel and Hamas is that the IDF would have used the iron dome to intercept it, but Hamas fired their rockets towards it.”Operation Guardian of the Walls was not Lt.E’s first war with Hamas. In 2014 she just started commanding over 80 reconnaissance troops in the command and control room in Kissufim in southern Israel. Operation Protective Edge broke out a week later.“Now everything has changed. The character of the targets, how we make decisions, everything has changed,” she said.“The ability to bring about an end of the operation within 11 days just using airstrikes and no troops maneuvering inside Gaza and risking the lives of many troops, is critical,” she continued, adding that “the achievement of this round is that Hamas knows they can’t fire a rocket or carry out any attacks on Israel without a response.”