An Israeli army report has contradicted a previous finding that the death of four members of one family in Gaza during the 2008-2009 war was caused by artillery shells. The daughters of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish — Bessan, 20; Mayar, 15; and Aya, 14 — and his niece Noor, 17, were killed when several shells hit their home in Jabalya refugee camp during the 22-day offensive. Other members of the family were wounded.
The new report submitted by the state to an Israeli court in Beersheba last week claimed that the family home contained explosives that are not used by the Israeli army. However, no evidence of this was provided, Haaretz said on Tuesday. The state has produced its report as Dr Abuelaish’s case is finally set to be heard on 15 and 19 March; the bereaved father filed a lawsuit to the court in late 2010.
Abuelaish worked as a doctor in Israel and Palestine at the time of the offensive, but has been living in Canada since the so-called Operation Cast Lead. He teaches at the Department of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
In 2009, the army opened an operational inquiry into the death of the doctor’s daughters, and found that they were killed by two shells. No apology has been given for the targeting of the family.
A UN report, prepared by a specialist team under the former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure during the three-week offensive of 2008-2009.
This is not the first time that Israel has cleared its armed forces of wrongdoing in Gaza. A few months ago, the military closed seven investigations without prosecuting officers or soldiers for crimes committed during yet another war in 2014, which took the lives of some 2,200 Palestinians.