Posted by: Lister | October 24, 2010

Inquiry into Samouni attack

Back in January 2009, during operation Cast Lead, the Samouni family were evacuated by the IDF into a building which was then shelled by the Israelis: Evacuees Shelled.

The Independent has an update, regarding the inquiry into the event.

Israeli military police are investigating whether an air strike which killed 21 members of the same family sheltering in a building during the Army’s Gaza offensive in 2008-9 was authorised by a senior brigade commander who had been warned of the danger to civilians.

[…] The missile attack, which also injured 19 people, came early in the ground offensive. According to many Palestinian witnesses, it came after troops in the Givati brigade ordered dozens of family members, including women and children, to move to the building the previous day.

[…] One of the five initial investigations, under Israel Defence Forces Col. Tamir Yadi, specifically covered “claims regarding incidents in which many uninvolved civilians were harmed” and reportedly did not conclude that there had been anything unusual about the Samouni strike. This was despite graphic and largely consistent accounts by numerous Palestinian witnesses to human rights organisations, Israeli and international media, including The Independent, of the strike on the building. These said that, with those in the building cold, hungry and thirsty, a few men had left the building on the freezing early morning of 5 January in order to find wood to make a fire to make tea and to bake bread, but also to urge another relative nearby to join them in what they thought was a safe refuge. They are said to have regarded the nearby presence of soldiers as a protection.

The IDF declined to confirm a report that Yoav Galant, the outgoing head of Southern Command and the new Chief of Staff Designate, had opposed the military police investigation on the Samouni case.

[…] One of the questions which the current military police investigation will presumably have to decide is how it was – even if Col Malka was not specifically warned that civilians were present before the attack was authorised – that he did not know: why the war room from which the Givati operation was being run was not told the previous day that unarmed civilians, including women and children, had been ordered to move to Wael Samouni’s house.

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