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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fire was justified but IDF tank shells killed three Gaza girls

I'm sure many of you recall the story of the three daughters of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who were killed in their home in Beit Lahiya in Northern Gaza.

Israel Radio reported on its 5:00 newscast that an IDF investigation into the incident concluded last night. The IDF concluded that the girls were killed by two tank shells that were shot in the direction of their home by IDF troops. However, there were snipers on the house next door who were shooting at the troops, and the snipers were being directed by spotters who were on the roof of Dr. Abuelaish's building. The tanks were ordered to fire at the upper floors of the building to hit the spotters.

Under the circumstances, the IDF concluded that the order to fire was not unreasonable.

You may recall that an earlier reporet suggested that the girls were killed by secondary explosions from munitions stored in the building.

Moreover, the IDF noted that Dr. Abuelaish refused several times to evacuate his home as nearly all of his neighbors had done.

Nevertheless, the IDF has apologized for the incident.

Of course, the real party to blame - Hamas - is getting off scot free.


JPost adds:
The IDF said that a Golani Brigade force operating near Beit Lahiya came under sniper and mortar fire in an area laden with explosives and IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

After determining that the source of the fire was a building adjacent to Abuelaish's home, the force returned fire.

While the IDF was shooting, suspicious figures were identified in the top floors of the doctor's house, and the troops believed the figures were directing the Hamas sniper and mortar fire, the army said.

Upon assessing the situation in the field while under heavy fire, the commander of the force gave the order to open fire on the suspicious figures, and it was from this fire that Abuelaish's three daughters were killed, said the IDF.


The IDF Spokesperson Unit stressed that in the days prior to the incident, Dr. Abuelaish was contacted personally several times by officers in the Coordination and Liaison Administration in order to urge the doctor to evacuate his home, as many others already had, because of Hamas operations and the intense fighting that was already taking place in that area for several days.

In addition to the personal contact made directly with the doctor, the IDF issued warnings to the residents of Sajaiya by dropping thousands of leaflets and by issuing warnings via Palestinian media outlets.

The investigation of the incident was conducted by the commanders of the forces in the area, as well as the division commander, and was approved by GOC Southern Command and the Head of the IDF Operations Branch (both ranking Major Generals).


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