A Hamas rocket launcher located just feet away from civilian homes in a heavily populated Gaza City neighborhood was revealed in a report on France 24 TV Tuesday, appearing to directly contradict denials made Sunday by Hamas leader Kaled Mashaal that his organization fires rockets from civilian areas, in effect using non-combatant Gaza residents as human shields — or human sacrifices, in the inevitable Israeli counterstrikes.
"It is unfortunate that the U.S. administration and President Obama have adopted the Israeli narrative, which is a lie," Mashaal said in a CNN interview Sunday. "Hamas sacrifices itself for its people, and does not use its people as human shields to protect its soldiers."
But, taking advantage of the temporary cease-fire in the bloody war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, France 24 TV reporter Gallagher Fenwick located a rocket launcher which he described — and which can be seen in the video accompanying this story — as 50 meters, or about 165 feet, from a hotel housing numerous international journalists and 100 meters from a clearly marked United Nations building.
"This type of setup is at the heart of the debate within the international community but also between Israel and the Palestinian militants," Fenwick said in the stunning France 24 report. "The Israeli army has repeatedly accused Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas, and that is precisely the type of setup we have right here — rockets set up right next to buildings with a lot of residents."
Fenwick dove for cover while on the air, returning moments later to report that a Hamas rocket had just been fired from somewhere directly behind him.
Fenwick said he believes that the rocket launcher he revealed on Tuesday is the same one used by Hamas to fire the rocket from a civilian neighborhood, over his head in the direction of Israel during that live broadcast.
Also last week, a reporter for a Finland newspaper was in Gaza City's civilian Shifa Hospital when, she said, a Hamas rocket was fired from a parking lot directly behind the medical building.
But that video was not aired until the correspondent who reported it was safely home in India.
New York Times photojournalist Taylor Hicks said on Monday, also after he had returned from Gaza, that Hamas militants are fighting the war from "behind the scenes."
"They are operating out of buildings and homes and at night," Hicks said, explaining that the Hamas militants fear being spotted and targeted by Israeli drone aircraft. "I never saw a single device for launching the rockets to Israel. It's as if they don't exist."
France 24's Fenwick apparently looked a bit harder that the Pulitzer Prize winner Hicks, because he located a Hamas rocker launcher rather easily, in a civilian neighborhood.