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Hamas placing rocket launchers near schools to use 'civilians and children as shields'

Hamas has been placing rocket launch pads next to kindergartens, mosques and nurseries in Gaza, Israeli intelligence has claimed.

The IDF cited newly released satellite images of the Strip as evidence that Hamas militants have been using civilians and children to shield themselves from Israeli strikes.

Taking to social media, they purported the pictures showed launch pits dug right next to civilian structures – a tactic Israel says confirms their claims that Hamas is using civilians as human shields.

The snaps showed one of the alleged launch sites inside the garden of a mosque with another positioned only a stone’s throw away near a kindergarten.

Another purported launch pit was positioned near a United Nations building in Gaza while another was installed right opposite the Manfaluti Secondary School for boys.

While the effective presence of the launch sites could not be independently verified, the geolocation provided matched the locations provided.

Analysts argued that satellite images of the same spots taken in September did now show signs of rocket launch sites being either present or under construction, suggesting the pads could be a recent development.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said: “Since the beginning of the war, the Hamas terrorist organization has been exploiting civilians and civilian sites such as kindergartens, schools, and mosques for the purpose of firing rockets at Israel.

“Hamas deliberately fires its rockets at Israeli civilians.”

Israel has been tipped to launch a ground offensive in Gaza to completely wipe out Hamas’s presence in retaliation for the deadly incursion its militants launched on the southern area of the country on October 7.

Within hours of the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorised his forces to start bombarding the Strip of Gaza – attracting the criticism of the international community because of the heavy civilian losses.

After a brief pause in its air raids to allow aid to cross into Gaza from Egypt, Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza early Monday, including in areas where Palestinian civilians have been told to seek refuge.

Fears of a widening war have grown as Israeli warplanes have struck targets in the occupied West Bank, Syria and Lebanon in recent days.

It has frequently traded fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is armed with tens of thousands of rockets.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed — mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack.

At least 222 people were captured and dragged back to Gaza, including foreigners. Two Americans were released Friday, hours before the first shipment of humanitarian aid.

More than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. That includes the disputed toll from a hospital explosion.

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