There were cases in which families were apparently killed by fighter jet strikes. How do you explain that?
A lot of houses were hit, and some of those houses were also shared by occupants aside from [Hamas] militants. I think most of the families that were hurt were in cases like Shujaâiyya, (the testifier is referring to the artillery shot in the aftermath of the event in which seven IDF soldiers were killed when their APC was hit by a rocket) where the threshold for opening fire was more lax because forces were in immediate danger.
But the forces were operating in neighborhoods that were supposed to be uninhabited.
âSupposed to beâ is one thing, but in reality there were people in there sometimes. In the urban areas of Rafah and Khuzaâa, every other house was marked as âactiveâ (being used by militants). It was a real hornetâs nest in there, and they took down those houses systematically. âRoof knockingâ (a method by which a small missile is fired on the roof of a building as a warning shot to its residents that it is about to be struck) followed by a boom, âroof knocking,â a boom. Despite the fact that no one was âsupposed to beâ in there.
But there are means of confirming that there arenât any people [in the houses], so how did it happen that they got killed anyway?
We canât know everything. We did everything we could in order to know. If the family had no phone and a âroof knockingâ was conducted, and after a few minutes no one came out, then the assumption was that there was no one there.
You were working under the assumption that once a âroof knockingâ was conducted everyone leaves the building immediately, and if nobody leaves it means there was no one inside?
People who are willing to sacrifice themselves, thereâs nothing you can do. We have no way of knowing if there were people in there who decided not to get out.
But the bomb was dropped on the house?
And say after a âroof knockingâ 10 people go up on the roof of the house?
Then you donât strike the house.
And what if after a âroof knockingâ 10 people stay inside the living room?
If people were inside the house I didnât know about it. But I donât think that was taken into consideration [over whether or not to bomb the house].
Is it a requirement to make sure no civilians are in a structure before itâs attacked by a fighter jet?
Itâs not obligatory. Say the target was [Hamasâ] deputy battalion commander in Shujaâiyya, an attack would be launched if the number of civilians wasnât too high. By too high, I mean a two-digit number.
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.