Last updated: 15 April, 2013

Israeli army closes files on deaths in Gazan campaign

Israel’s military has closed probes into more than 60 allegations of misconduct during its Gaza campaign last November, including an air strike that killed 12 people, among them five women and five children.

In a report sent to AFP, the army said its Military Advocate General had “reviewed the factual findings, as far as they existed, with respect to approximately 65 incidents, and did not find a basis for opening a criminal investigation in those cases.”

Among the incidents was a November 18 air strike on a family home in Gaza City in which Mohammed al-Dallu, a Hamas policeman described by the army as a terrorist, was killed along with nine other members of his family and two neighbours.

“The regrettable deaths of members of the Al-Dallu family were caused as a result of an attack aimed against a senior terrorist operative and several other terrorists responsible for launching many dozens of missile and rocket attacks,” against Israeli population centres, said the report, received on Sunday.

It added that about 15 more incidents were still being probed.

The eight-day offensive against Gaza militants, codenamed “Operation Pillar of Defence” by Israel, cost the lives of 177 Palestinians, including over 100 civilians, and six Israelis, two of them soldiers, according to sources on both sides.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the military investigation procedure.

“Given the flaws inherent in this system — which more than five months after the latest Israeli offensive has failed to result in a single war crimes indictment — PCHR believes that Israel’s legal system is used as a smokescreen, to provide an illusion of investigative rigour,” it said in a statement.

New York-based Human Rights Watch slammed the army’s statement, saying there was “no independently-verifiable information to support its claim that Israeli air strikes that killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war were all lawful.”

“Just saying that the fatal consequences of an attack were ‘unintended’ or a ‘mistake’ does not make the attack lawful,” said HRW’s Bill Van Esveld in an email.

Hamas’s spokesman Fawzi Barhum, whose Islamist movement rules Gaza, said in a statement that the army’s decision to halt investigations into the Dallu family air strike “encourages further killing of Palestinians.”