In the wake of a spate of news stories which ran for several days in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and hundreds of newspapers around the world reported the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed two Palestinian women in cold blood, which raised a storm of controversy.

According to the media accounts, an Israeli sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, killing them. In a second reported case, Israeli soldiers allegedly shot and killed an elderly person to entertain themselves.

However, leading Israeli legal authorities say, following an independent investigation, the alleged killings never occurred according to eyewitness testimonies.

These incidents were clarified in testimony provided by Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military training academy, and were presented to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

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Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, as well as, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant, head of the IDF’s Southern Army Command, also received the investigation’s findings.

The brigade commander’s investigation affirmed the sniper’s claim he merely fired warning shots.

“I saw the woman and her daughters, and I shot warning shots,” the sniper said. “The commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ‘Why did you shoot at them?’ I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots.”

Brigade officers suspect Palestinian fighters who remained in the lower story of a nearby house thought he had shot the women, which led to rumors the sniper had killed the mother and her two daughters.

Regarding the second reported incident, the investigation showed it never occurred.

An officer of an elite combat unit that fought deep in Palestinian territory told the Israeli media that “non-combatant civilians were killed without doubt. But there was no deliberate harm done to innocent civilians. I am fully convinced that there was no soldier who shot for no reason out of a desire for revenge. I don’t know of any such cases.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.