Israel regrets terrorist exploitation of children

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

During an IDF operation in the northern Gaza Strip in recent days, IDF forces received warning of intentions to carry out an attack against them. On the night between August 28 and August 29, soldiers spotted a Palestinian youth approaching them. The soldiers confronted the 15-year-old and discovered that he was carrying two explosive devices, which he apparently intended to detonate in a suicide bombing attack against the forces. The teenager was taken for questioning by security forces.

The IDF regrets that terrorist organizations make frequent use of children and youth, in order to execute attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

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As part of the ongoing IDF defensive activity to protect Israeli civilians from terror threats this afternoon, the IDF targeted several Kassam launchers in the Beit Hanun industrial area, which were placed by Palestinian terrorists and aimed at Israel. Several Palestinians were identified handling the launchers at the time. This area is often used to fire Kassam rockets at Israel.

The IDF received claims that the Palestinians handling the launchers were teenagers. The IDF wishes to express sorrow for the cynical use the terror organizations make of the active participation of teenagers in terror attacks.

Close to 300 Kassam rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip during the past month.

Ynet added from an IDF source:

An IDF source said the attack targeted five Kassam rocket launchers that were aimed at Israel. The source said that during the attack a number of figures were spotted approaching the rocket launchers.

The source stressed that rocket launchers are a legitimate IDF target. "It’s our duty to do everything possible to prevent attacks on Sderot and Gaza vicinity communities. Every time we identify a launcher aimed at Israel and a Kassam aimed at a house in Sderot or another target in the area, we will do everything to prevent the attack," the source said.

"The terror organizations are making cynical use of children, they are sending them to areas where the launchers are located, they are sending them to collect weapons and are consciously endangering them in places where there are IDF targets."

"More than once we preferred not to carry out this type of attack so as not to harm civilians. Nothing is certain here, if Palestinian civilians are identified, we hold fire, but this is not always possible," the source said. "In many cases, upon investigating the incidents, we find that civilians were killed because the terror organizations sent them to the battle zone, because the terrorists were staying among civilians or carrying out a certain activity that endangered the civilians."

"We have no intention of harming Palestinian civilians. They are not our enemy, but our duty is to prevent harm to Israel’s citizens and it is obvious that if we do not attack these launchers, within minutes or hours attacks on Sderot and the surroundings will begin. In the future we will also continue to hit and foil anything facing us and threatening Israel’s citizens. In cases where we don’t fire, the IDF is taking a real risk, because minutes later, a child from Sderot could be injured from a Palestinian attack from that same exact point."

AP quoted Wasfi Ghazal, a relative of the three Palestinian children killed, as saying: "We are victims of the (Israel) occupation and victims fo the misconduct of fighters who have randomly chosen our area to target Israel."