The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have seemingly stopped the “knock on the roof.”
The euphemism describes a military tactic first developed in 2009 and used in several conflicts since then.
How it works: IDF forces will alert a building’s occupants that they are targeting the structure for an airstrike by dropping a small, non-explosive munition on the roof before a larger strike is executed. Its objective is to minimize civilian casualties by allowing for evacuation in buildings where militant groups keep rockets or ammunition stashed.
Despite the ultimate goal of saving lives, the technique is controversial and has been criticized by human rights groups, who argue dropping a munition on a building should not be considered a warning.
Others say even with the heads-up, there are few safe places for civilians to go in a blockaded strip of land. Gaza is small, just 140 square miles, and one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Civilians, including children, are often killed in the bombardments.
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht explained the distinction between military and civilian targets was not so simple.
“In buildings where people are living there could be a weapons store... there could be a Hamas kingpin living there,” he said.
What’s happening now: Following Hamas’ attack on Saturday, Israel seems to have abandoned the “knock on the roof.” CNN has spoken to multiple people in Gaza who said they were given no notice when their homes were bombed.
When asked whether the IDF has stopped the tactic, Hecht said on Monday that Hamas did not “knock on the roof.”
“When they came in and threw grenades at our ambulances they did not knock on the roof. This is war. The scale is different,” Hecht added.
This absence of such warnings may be contributing to the significant number of civilian casualties reported so far in Gaza. At least 900 people have been killed in Gaza since Saturday.