Video: Hamas sets up and fires rockets near hotel, in Gaza residential district

NDTV shot this video over the last two days, but didn’t publish it until after their reporters left for … well, the obvious reasons. Note the time of the rocket fire, too — 7:50 am, just ten minutes before the cease-fire began today. Could these have been the missiles that hit the West Bank?

It began with a mysterious tent with a blue canopy that bobbed up yesterday (August 4) at 6:30 am in an open patch of land next to our window. We saw three men making a multitude of journeys in and out of the tent, sometimes with wires.

An hour later, they emerged, dismantled the tent, changed their clothes and walked away.

The next morning – today – we woke to news of the 72-hour ceasefire but just before it was to take effect, the rocket next to our hotel was fired. There was a loud explosion and a whooshing sound. The cloud of smoke that rose was captured by our cameraperson.

This report is being aired on NDTV and published on after our team left the Gaza strip – Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired. But just as we reported the devastating consequences of Israel’s offensive on Gaza’s civilians, it is equally important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones.

Indeed. This shows a deliberate attempt to bait the IDF into a response to take out the rocket battery, which would necessarily put everyone in the neighborhood at risk. That has been Hamas’ strategy all along, while threatening any reporters in Gaza who might file honest stories about that strategy. It’s a war crime, and it puts the responsibility of any civilian deaths on Hamas rather than the IDF.

This also demonstrates the relative futility of return fire on those rocket positions, though. The ease in which a temporary silo can be built, used, and then abandoned makes it almost impossible to defeat Hamas through reciprocal artillery fire. The only way to end the rocket fire is to devastate Hamas’ ability to re-arm itself and deploy those weapons. That is why a ground war was necessary, even without the tunnels going into Israel, and why the border crossings will have to either remain closed or severely restricted for the foreseeable future.