Gaza fam­ily deaths spark fresh vi­o­lence

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

THE DEATHS of a mother and her four chil­dren in the Gaza Strip have sparked fresh vi­o­lence — de­spite on­go­ing cease­fire talks in Cairo — and a de­bate within Is­rael on how to re­spond to dis­puted Pales­tinian deaths.

Miyasar Abu Meatak and her four chil­dren Ru­d­ina, Hana, Saleh and Mou­sad, aged 15 months to six years, were killed by an ex­plo­sion while eat­ing break­fast in the town of Beit Ha­noun on Mon­day morn­ing. Two more chil­dren were se­verely wounded.

The Pales­tini­ans claimed that an Is­raeli shell had hit the house. Is­rael re­sponded that the in­ci­dent was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and later the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice is­sued a state­ment ex­press­ing re­gret, say­ing that there had been ex­changes of fire in the area.

At the same time, Defence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak, tour­ing a mu­ni­tions fac­tory, said: “Ha­mas is re­spon­si­ble for all that hap­pens in Gaza. It op­er­ates from pop­u­lated ar­eas and is to blame for most of the ‘not-in­volved’ who are hit in th­ese op­er­a­tions.”

Later in the day, Is­raeli re­porters were briefed by IDF sources that the fam­ily had been killed by ex­plo­sives car­ried by two Ha­mas mem­bers hit from the air by an Is­raeli air­craft.

But the IDF could not lo­cate ev­i­dence to back up th­ese claims. On Wednes- day evening, the IDF was plan­ning to present to re­porters sur­veil­lance footage prov­ing its claims. But the brief­ing was can­celled af­ter the footage was deemed in­suf­fi­cient to prove the case of “sec­ondary ex­plo­sions”.

The Pales­tinian or­gan­i­sa­tions in­ten­si­fied their fir­ing on Is­rael. Over the next three days, more than 45 Kas­sams fell on Sderot and the south­ern Negev.

“Per­haps we should have been quicker to em­pha­sise our re­gret,” an of­fi­cial from the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice told the JC, “but we man­aged to change the tone of cov­er­age in some of the in­ter­na­tional me­dia.”

For­mer IDF spokesman Nah­man Shai was more scathing.

“We are still suf­fer­ing from the trauma of the Mo­hammed Al-Dura case,” he said, “when we im­me­di­ately took re­spon­si­bil­ity for his [2000] killing and then, by the time we found out that it might not have been us, it was too late. So the IDF and the gov­ern­ment have gone to the other ex­treme and now won’t ex­press re­gret when peo­ple get killed so as not to seem guilty.”

PHOTO: AP

Mourn­ers pray next to the bod­ies of five of the Abu Meatak fam­ily

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