As Hamas launches rockets and a retaliatory Israeli bombing campaign is turning the Palestinian enclave of Gaza into a ghost town, both sides are saying the other is targeting innocent civilians — but a moment of restraint was reportedly captured in a video allegedly showing the aborting of an Israeli bombing run.
Israelis are being accused of striking a center for the disabled and several mosques, and they acknowledged hitting at least one mosque, saying the central Gaza religious structure was housing a secret cache of weapons, the New York Times reported.
On the other side, the Israeli Defense Forces told USA Today that they believe Hamas to have an arsenal of 10,000 rockets in Gaza, some capable of hitting northern Tel Aviv and all intended to "terrorize the population [of Israel]."
But in the midst of the violence, a video released Thursday by the Jewish news outlet the Algemeiner purports to show a case of restraint on the part of the Israeli military.
“There are people close to our target,” says an Israeli pilot on a Gaza bombing run, the Algemeiner reported. “It looks like there are people, possibly children in our targeted area.”
“We are not going to strike this target now," reportedly comes the operator's response. "Let’s move on.”
The Associated Press reported on the situation in Gaza early Saturday:
A ceaseless Israeli bombing campaign, with airstrikes every five minutes, has turned the frenetic hub of the Gaza Strip into a virtual ghost town, emptying streets, closing shops and keeping hundreds of thousands of people close to home where they feel safest from the bombs.
In Israel, hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza militants also send civilians running into bomb shelters and staying close to home. However, there have been no fatalities there, while the death toll in Gaza topped 120 on Saturday from the five-day offensive.
In nearby Jabalya, 77-year-old Ibrahim Mahmoud Daoud looked on grimly as several young men from the neighborhood helped him sift through the rubble of his two-story home, leveled early Friday by a bomb dropped from an Israeli warplane. A father to eight — seven married daughters and an unmarried son — Daoud sounded defiant as he considered the latest violent round in the long-running struggle between Israel and Hamas.
It was not clear why the home was targeted. Israel says it targets buildings used by Hamas for military purposes.
"We don't need houses," Daoud said. "What we need is a country. I wish I were a young man, so I could wear a suicide belt and go blow myself up in Tel Aviv."
Some quietly criticize Hamas. Abu Ali, a driver for his family business who identified himself only by his first names to avoid Hamas retribution, insisted that at least in his immediate neighborhood, the movement was widely reviled.
"Everybody here hates Hamas," he said. "But they're too afraid to say so publicly. Our food comes from Israel but what we give them in return is rockets — rockets that don't even make little holes in the ground."
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