The majority of Palestinians injured or killed by Israeli airstrikes were warned in advance by Israel that an attack was coming, providing further evidence that the terror group Hamas is intentionally urging citizens to ignore these warnings in a bid to inflate the body count, according to the United Nations.
Hamas in recent days has urged Gaza residents to ignore Israeli warnings and remain in their houses, an order that effectively turns civilians into human shields.
Israel has a policy of not carrying out attacks until civilians are notified via leaflets, phone calls, and text messages, a tactic that has proved effective in reducing casualties, the U.N. reported.
Gaza civilians who have been impacted by the airstrikes were notified beforehand "in most cases." The finding provides further evidence that Hamas’ order to ignore these warnings could be inflating the casualty rate.
"In most cases, prior to the attacks, residents have been warned to leave, either via phone calls by the Israel military or by the firing of warning missiles," the U.N. wrote in a recently published situation report on the conflict.
Around 35 Palestinians, 23 of whom were classified as civilians, have been killed since Israel began striking Hamas strongholds and weapon facilities, many of which are deliberately located in highly populated civilian areas.
Seven Palestinian children have been killed, according to the U.N. Another 300, including women and children, have been injured.
Four Israelis, including two civilians, have been injured by Hamas’s rockets, the majority of which have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Hamas’s Interior Ministry on Thursday released an order instructing Gaza residents to ignore Israeli warnings, dubbing them a form of "psychological warfare."
"The interior ministry warned citizens about Israel sending messages telling them to leave their houses," according to translations of the official Arabic statement provided by Oren Adaki, an Arabic language specialist at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
"The goal of these actions is to create confusion among the citizens," the Interior Ministry said, instructing "all citizens to not heed these messages from Israel."
"The goal of these messages is terrorizing citizens and to cause panic among them," read the statement, which instructs Palestinians to "not do what the messages instruct them to do," Adaki explained.
"The ministry [is] calling all our people not to deal or pay attention to the psychological warfare carried out by the occupation through rumors that broadcast across his media and delivering publications and communications on the phones of citizens, and the lack of response for each of these means, which aims to weaken the domestic front in light of great steadfastness of our people to face the aggression," the Hamas Interior Ministry for National Security stated on Thursday in an order published in English and Arabic.
Despite the escalating war, Israel has kept some border crossings with the Gaza Strip open in order to allow the flow of "urgent humanitarian supplies and fuel," according to the U.N. report.
The Gaza Power Plant also continues to function in part so that residents have periodic access to power.
The Palestine Liberation Organizations former spokeswoman attempted to claim during a TV interview on Thursday that those who mention Hamas’s use of human shields are racists. This statement was rejected and dismantled by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Hamas has been caught on multiple occasions firing rockets from schools, hospitals, and mosques in a bid to goad Israel into firing on civilians.