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Case closed: Israeli military says 'Israeli military did not commit war crimes in Gaza'

About as credible as me being the judge for my DUIMilitary prosecution tells B'Tselem it
won't take any legal action against those responsible for airstrike that killed
21 members of Palestinian family during Gaza op. Relative: IDF knew only
civilians were in the house
Yoav Zitun, Elior Levy

Latest Update:
05.02.12, 00:53 / Israel News Major Dorit Tuval, the deputy Military Advocate for Operational Matters,
informed B'Tselem on Tuesday that the Military Police investigation into an
incident in which 21 members of the al-Samouni family were killed during an IDF strike on Gaza's Zeitoun neighborhood during Operation Cast Lead in 2009 has been closed.
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In her letter to the human rights group, Tuval wrote that the military
prosecution has decided not to take any legal action against those responsible
for the incident after "the investigation completely disproved any claim about
deliberate harm to civilians, as well as haste and recklessness about possible
harm to civilians, or criminal negligence." "The operational circumstances of Operation Cast Lead, which was
conducted mainly in highly-populated urban areas, had direct implications on the
manner in which operational decisions were reached during the incident in
question," she wrote. Attorney Yael Stein, B'Tselem's head of research, said in response: "It is unacceptable that no
one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21
uninvolved civilians, inside the building they were in under soldiers' orders,
even if not deliberately. The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility
in this case, even if only to accept the severity of the event and clarify its
circumstances, even if accidental, is outrageous. "Shirking the responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of other
civilians and the immense damage caused by Operation Cast Lead demonstrates yet
again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the
army," she said.
During the investigation, then-Givati Brigade commander Col. Ilan Malka,
who approved the airstrike on the structure in which the Samouni family was
staying, was interrogated under warning. The probe's findings were submitted to
the IDF chief of staff, who decided to put Malka's promotion on hold due to his
conduct during the incident.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said, "Military Advocate General Danny Efroni has
decided that the investigation completely disproved the harsh allegations of war
crimes leveled at the IDF by various elements.Salah Samouni was outraged after learning of the IDF's decision. "The senior
officer who authorized the bombing became a heralded officer at the expense of
our children's blood and the people he killedSamouni told Ynet that his father gathered the entire family in the house a
day before the airstrike in accordance with instructions he had received from
the Israeli army. "He explained to the army that we were civilians who have
nothing to with the fighting and asked that they refrain from attacking the
house."According to Salah Samouni, the officers lied when they said they did not
know civilians were residing in the structure. He mentioned that one of the
officers asked him whether terrorists were launching rockets from the area in
which the house is located. "I told him that yes, they were firing rockets, but
not from where the house stands, but from a nearby agricultural field, located a
kilometer from the house," he recalled.Samouni insisted that there were no armed gunmen in the house's vicinity, and
also criticized Tzipi Livni, who served as foreign minister at the time. "She
claimed we were a family of terrorists. And I ask her – this is a family of
terrorists? The members of this family have worked in Israel for more than 40

Added: May-2-2012 Occurred On: May-2-2012
Other Middle East
Tags: Israel, jews, Gaza, war, crimes, 21, family, members, Samouni, military, soldiers
Location: Israel (load item map)
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