Is­rael ends airstrike probe

Antelope Valley Press - - Second Front -

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Is­raeli mil­i­tary on Tues­day said it has wrapped up an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an airstrike that killed nine mem­bers of a Pales­tinian fam­ily in the Gaza Strip. The re­port claims the tar­geted house had been used by Is­lamic mil­i­tants but also ad­mit­ted it didn’t ex­pect the strike to re­sult in civil­ian ca­su­al­ties.

The Nov. 14 airstrike in the cen­tral Gaza town of Deir al-Balah came in the clos­ing hours of a fierce two-day burst of fight­ing be­tween Is­rael and the Is­lamic Ji­had mil­i­tant group. With­out warn­ing, the overnight Is­raeli strike de­stroyed the house, killing nine mem­bers of the ex­tended Abu Mal­hous fam­ily, in­clud­ing two women and five chil­dren un­der the age of 13.

In a state­ment, the mil­i­tary said its in­ves­ti­ga­tion found the build­ing had served as a “mil­i­tary com­pound” used by Is­lamic Ji­had. It said that mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence had ap­proved the tar­get last June, and that in­tel­li­gence up­dates de­ter­mined the home was used for mil­i­tary pur­poses in the days be­fore and dur­ing the Novem­ber fight­ing.

“The re­view also con­cluded that when plan­ning and car­ry­ing out the at­tack, it was es­ti­mated in the IDF that civil­ians would not be harmed as a re­sult of an at­tack,” the army said. It said its re­view in­cluded rec­om­men­da­tions “with the aim of re­duc­ing, as much as pos­si­ble, the re­cur­rence of sim­i­lar ir­reg­u­lar events.”

Mo­hammed Abu Mal­hous, 19, who lost his par­ents and three sib­lings in the airstrike, rejected the find­ings.

“Why are they not go­ing to pun­ish those who are re­spon­si­ble?” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “They are liars ... Our house is well known in the area and we have lived in it for the past 15 years.”

The in­ci­dent has raised new ques­tions about Is­raeli tac­tics in Gaza.

Since the Ha­mas mil­i­tant group seized con­trol of Gaza, Is­rael has fought three wars and nu­mer­ous skir­mishes against armed groups in the ter­ri­tory.

Hun­dreds of Pales­tinian civil­ians have been killed by Is­raeli fire over the years, draw­ing heavy crit­i­cism of Is­raeli bat­tle­field prac­tices and ac­cu­sa­tions from Pales­tinian and in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights groups of war crimes.

Is­rael says it is act­ing in self-de­fense, takes great safe­guards to avoid harm­ing civil­ians and ac­cuses Pales­tinian mil­i­tants of en­dan­ger­ing civil­ians by fir­ing rock­ets from res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

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