Jerusalem – Aerial photographs of the Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) bombardment of armed men in Beit Hanoun in Gaza last Monday prove that Maseir Abu Muatak and her four children were evidently killed by a secondary explosion of explosive materials of a terrorist rather than by an IDF tank shell, as the Palestinians claimed.
These are the conclusions of an inquiry that the army held after the tragic incident. The investigative team, led by Col. Shai Alkalai of the Artillery Corps, submitted the final report two days ago to OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant.
On the day of the attack, Givati Brigade troops were operating in the Izbath neighborhood in Beit Hanoun to arrest wanted men, locate tunnels and find arms smuggled into the Gaza Strip through the Philadelphi Road tunnels. At the same time, the mother and her children were eating breakfast at home. Tanks from the 401st Brigade operated together with infantry troops.
The report indicates that ground and air force troops identified the four terrorists who fired on IDF troops as they were carrying weapons on their backs. Aircraft fired a missile at the terrorists and struck one of them directly. The missile strike caused a larger secondary explosion that was caused by the weapon used against the terrorist. The aircraft engaged in another attack on an additional terrorist who was evidently also carrying weapons. There was a direct hit in this case as well.
According to the report’s conclusions, no firing was carried out in the location except for the firing of the air force missiles. The report also determined that the family was struck by the second explosion – which resulted from the shockwave of the explosion of the first missile and the weapons that the terrorist was carrying – or by a projectile resulting of the explosion.
An officer in the IDF’s Gaza Division told the Israeli media that “no one could have predicted the size of the explosion from the backpacks that the terrorists were carrying, just as there is no way to estimate the force of the explosion of a car carrying Kassam rockets in the heart of an inhabited area.
“We need to carry out risk management and realize that if we don’t hit the car and the terrorists, the end result will be the firing of a rocket at Sderot or harm to IDF troops. If the terrorists in Beit Hanoun had planted bombs for Givati Brigade troops and soldiers had been killed as a result, what would they say then? This sanctimoniousness needs to stop. We didn’t choose to fight inside inhabited areas. With all the regret, no one can promise that it won’t happen again.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008