Would-be Hamas suicide bombers wearing Israel Defense Forces uniforms attempted to infiltrate a group of IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.

No additional details about the incident were immediately available. Ashkenazi also said Hamas was using civilian buildings to store weapons, including schools and mosques, making it difficult for the IDF to prevent civilian casualties.

"The IDF is making every effort to prevent harm to civilians, but Hamas is making cynical use of them as a defensive wall," Ashkenazi said. "There is evidence that Hamas is preventing civilians from evacuating."

Gaza children went to class in "schools that were booby-trapped with dozens of kilograms of explosives ready for explosion," he said, adding that civilians also lived in explosives-packed homes and that those who moved out left behind houses that were similarly filled with explosives.

In addition, all mosques the IDF has attacked were used to store weapons - including anti-aircraft machine guns - or launch rockets, Ashkenazi said, adding: "The IDF has been careful to attack mosques at night to keep from harming civilians."

An IDF soldier was seriously wounded and three others were lightly hurt last night in an explosion in a booby-trapped house. IDF troops have found several buildings in Gaza containing tunnels meant for the abduction of soldiers, Ashkenazi said.