This is the 6th in our look back at the summer 2014 Gaza conflict.

On August 26, 2014, the active Gaza fighting stopped with agreement on a ceasefire. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess. Hamas is bragging that it has rebuilt tunnels leading into Israel and its rocket stockpiles and production.

Hamas had a deliberate strategy of firing from crowded civilian areas both to use civilians as shields and also to run up civilian casualties as part of a media campaign. The international media was bullied on the ground by Hamas operatives, a fact that slowly has leaked out.

The latest report from Polish reporter Wojciech Cegielski, I Saw Hamas’ Cruel and Selfish Game in Gaza, who describes two specific incidents he witnesses while in Gaza during the fighting:

The first incident happened late in the evening. I was in the bathroom when I’ve heard a loud rocket noise and my Spanish colleague, a journalist who was renting a flat with me near the Gaza beach, started to scream. He wanted to light a cigarette and came to one of the open windows. The moment he was using his lighter, he saw a fireball in front of his eyes and lost his hearing.

From what our neighbors told us later, a man drove up in a pickup to our tiny street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt or killed.

When we calmed down, we started to analyze the situation. It became obvious that the man or his supervisor wanted the Israel Defense Forces to destroy civilian houses, which our tiny street was full of. Whoever it was, Hamas, Iz al-Din al-Qassam or others, they knew that the IDF can strike back at the same place from which the rocket was fired. Fortunately for us, the rocket missed its target in Israel.

The second incident witnessed by Cegielski involved Hamas trying to goad Israel into attacking journalists:

The second story happened in the middle of the day. I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. During wartime, these hotels are occupied by foreign press and some NGOs. Every hotel is full and in its cafes many journalists spend their time discussing, writing, editing stories or just recharging the phones. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels. It was obvious that we journalists became a target. If the IDF would strike back, we all would be dead. What would Hamas do? It would not be surprising to hear about the “cruel Zionist regime killing innocent and free press.”

For me, provoking is also creating living shields.

The use by Hamas of human shields throughout the conflict is not the narrative of the 2014 Gaza conflict only because Hamas has a much more sophisticated propaganda machine than Israel, one that thrives on video and photographic images of dead civilians. And when the dead were Hamas or Islamic Jihad fighters, they often were called civilians anyway.

But there is no denying that there were many civilian dead and injured.

It didn’t have to be that way.

Hamas started the conflict by firing rockets into Israel. Hamas then rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal one week into the conflict, even though Israel accepted it. Had Hamas not continued the conflict, thousands of dead and wounded would have been spared.

The Hamas refusal to stop the conflict would continue throughout the summer, with numerous additional ceasefires being breached by Hamas.

On August 7, 2014, Hamas breached a humanitarian truce.  The New York Times reported:

After three days of quiet, the Israeli military said, at least 18 rockets were fired at 8 a.m. and in the hour afterward. Two were intercepted by Israel’s antimissile defense system over Ashkelon, the military said, while 14 others fell in open ground, causing no injury or damage, and two landed short in the Gaza Strip. The military also reported two launchings of rockets or mortar shells from Gaza before dawn. …

Just at 8 a.m., as television correspondents stood on the beachside road in Gaza City to do their live reports, the first rocket was fired. The signature white plume of the Israeli interception was visible in the air for miles. A few more booms were heard in the next 15 minutes, but they hardly disrupted the trickle of donkey carts on the street.

https://twitter.com/IsraelMFA/status/497688942938836992

On August 13, 2014, Hamas breached another humanitarian truce:

https://twitter.com/LTCPeterLerner/status/499673685486084097

https://twitter.com/BarakRavid/status/499632064506114048

On August 24, 2014, the final ceasefire was announced, and Hamas declared victory even though it achieved none of its goals (such as lifting the lawful military blockade, creating an airport and seaport, and so on):

https://twitter.com/IsraelHatzolah/status/504332595824304128

https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/504355938934214656

Tellingly, an al-Jazeera reporter also emerged from the bunkers and was greeted as a hero, recognizing the crucial military role played by sympathetic reporters:

At the end of the conflict there were several hundred civilians dead in Gaza, and all Hamas had to show for it was a propaganda victory built on those dead civilians.

That propaganda victory still is being exploited by the anti-Israel boycott movement, which misrepresents just about everything about the Gaza conflict, how it started, why it continued, and how Hamas used civilians as cannon fodder.

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Prior posts looking back at 2014 Gaza conflict:

  1. Gaza July 8, 2014 – Hamas Rockets Ignite War
  2. Gaza July 18, 2014 – Ground War After Hamas Rejects Ceasefire
  3. Summer 2014 – “Pro-Palestinian” rallies morph into anti-Semitic hatefests
  4. Gaza 2014: International media in the service of Hamas
  5. Gaza Summer 2014 – Hamas mass public executions