Israeli army defends intelligence and admits mistake in attack on Gaza family

epa08083950 Children hide during the weekly clashes after Friday protests at the border between Israel and eastern Gaza Strip, 20 December 2019. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER

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A strike in Gaza that killed nine members of the same family was due to a faulty assessment of the risk to civilians, the Israeli army said as it admitted “mistakes”.

Air strikes on November 14 targeted the home of Rasmi Abu Malhous, a Palestinian Authority (PA) employee in Gaza, and his brother Mohamed. Nine members of the al-Sawarka family were killed by four strikes over their home in Deir al-Balah. Five victims were children.

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday defended the airstrike that killed nine civilian members of the same family in Gaza last month, saying the compound targeted was used by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and that it did not anticipate that civilians would be killed there.

Announcing that it had concluded its review of “Operation Black Belt,” which was sparked by Israel’s targeted killing of PIJ commander Baha Abu al-Ata last month, the army said “military activity had been conducted in the compound in the past as well as during the combat days of [the operation].”, The Times of Israel reports.

The Israeli army said that intelligence collected ahead of the attack had indicated that the residence “was designated as an Islamic Jihad terror organisation military compound”.

Al Jazeera reports that the army had “estimated” that “civilians would not be harmed as a result of an attack” on the site, which was not believed to be accessible to members of the public.

 An army inquiry later found “that even though military activity was conducted in the compound, it was not a closed compound, and in reality civilians were present there,” it said.

The army said it would learn from its “mistakes” to reduce “the recurrence of similar irregular events.” It stressed it had made “considerable efforts … to reduce the damage to non-combatants”. The military report also blamed Islamic Jihad for exploiting and endangering non-combatants “by placing its military assets in the heart of the civilian population and by deliberately acting from within densely populated civilian areas.”

Via Al Jazeera / Times of Israel 

 

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