Israel has taken its war with Gaza to a new level of specificity. They have begun targeting the residences of Hamas leaders, but curiously, have decided to start warning them each before the attacks. Even more curiously, at least one of them was either too slow or too stupid to take advantage of the purported warning:
Israel bombed a mosque it says was used to store weapons and destroyed the homes of more than a dozen Hamas operatives on Friday, the seventh day of a blistering offensive in Gaza and the day after an airstrike killed a prominent Hamas figure.
In what appeared to be a new Israeli tactic, the military called at least some of the houses ahead of time to warn inhabitants of an impending attack. In some cases, it also fired a sound bomb to warn away civilians before flattening the homes with powerful missiles, Palestinians and Israeli defense officials said. …
It also was identified with Nizar Rayan, the Hamas militant leader killed Thursday when Israel dropped a one-ton bomb on his home. The explosion killed 20 people, including all four of Rayan’s wives and 10 of his children.
The strike on Rayan’s home obliterated the four-story apartment building and peeled off the walls of others around it, carving out a vast field of rubble.
Rayan, 49, ranked among Hamas’ top five decision-makers. A professor of Islamic law, he was known for his close ties to the group’s military wing and was respected in Gaza for donning combat fatigues and personally participating in clashes against Israeli forces. He sent one of his sons on an October 2001 suicide mission that killed two Israeli settlers in Gaza.
The mosque destroyed by the IDF was connected to Rayan. He had openly bragged about using it to store weapons against Israel as well as using it for a rally point for terrorist attacks. Before this latest clash, Rayan had more or less dared Israel to kill him by refusing to follow other Hamas leaders into hiding when hostilities erupted in Gaza. This time, they took him up on the dare, but not before calling his house to warn him that the bombs were coming.
Why make the calls at all? The IDF wants the families out of the house when they target the homes for destruction. Hamas uses the residences of its leaders to store and distribute weapons, the IDF claims, which makes them legitimate targets for attack. Israel seems more interested in sending a message than in killing Hamas leaders, or at least more worried about the collateral damage than the leaders themselves.
I see their point, but if Hamas leaders insist on conducting terrorist business from their homes, then I’d say that they are responsible for any legitimate act of defense Israel takes against them. That’s also true for the mosques. Any facility used to house the tools of war and the leadership of the organization that conducts war is fair game during that war — and besides which, Hamas certainly has no compunction about dropping missiles on civilians now and throughout its history in Gaza. They’re not picking up the phone and called Sderot and Ashkelon to give Israelis the schedule of missile attacks in advance.
Israel would be better suited to issue a blanket warning to Hamas leadership, and let them discover the specifics of the IDF schedule at the moment when their luck runs out.