Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Looking further at how B'Tselem reported on some specific incidents that it covered in its new website dedicated to exhaustively documenting the 2014 Gaza war, we see a curious omission.

B'Tselem's goal is to make it look like the IDF was guilty of war crimes. It does this by documenting civilians killed with no apparent militants in the area.

In the tragic case of the Abu Itta family, B'Tselem seems to be going out of its way to say that the IDF is lying.

The IDF writes:
Allegation Concerning the Deaths of Members of the Abu Itta Family in Tel Al-Za'atar (24 July 2014) –

In media reports, as well as complaints received by the MAG Corps from NGOs, it was alleged that on 24 July 2014, as a result of an air strike on the house of the Al-Ajrami family in Tel Al-Za'atar, five members of the Abu Itta family who were in an adjoining building were killed. Subsequently, and in accordance with the MAG's investigation policy, the incident was referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.

According to the factual findings collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG, at the time in question, a weapons cache was struck that was located in the house of a senior military operative in Hamas, Ahmad Al-Ajrami. Prior to the strike on the cache, the IDF issued a number of detailed warnings over the telephone, wherein the residents of the building in which the weapons cache was located, and the residents of a number of surrounding buildings that were expected to be damaged as a result of the strike, were asked to vacate the premises. Additionally, a warning strike was executed on the roof of the building in which the weapons cache was located, as well as on the roof of the adjoining building which was expected to be significantly impacted as a result of the strike, as part of the "knock on the roof" procedure. During this time, many people were seen leaving these buildings. The strike was carried out after it was assessed that it was possible to conclude that civilians were not expected to be harmed in the building targeted and the adjoining buildings, as a result of the strike.

After the event, it appears that as a result of the strike, five civilians, members of the Abu Itta family, were killed, and others were injured. It was not fully determined whether those deceased had been present in an adjoining building whose evacuation was specifically asked for, or whether they were in another adjoining building that had been damaged more significantly than had been expected.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements. The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and was aimed at a military objective – a weapons cache. The strike complied with the principle of proportionality, as at the time the decision was taken, it was considered that the collateral damage expected from the strike would not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated from it, and it appears that this estimation was not unreasonable under the circumstances. Moreover, the strike was carried out while undertaking a series of precautionary measures which aimed to minimize civilian harm. Inter alia, a specific warning was provided to the residents of the buildings which were expected to be impacted as a result of the strike, and ongoing visual surveillance of the event was used to confirm their evacuation.
B'Tselem reports on each of the family members killed in this way:
Ahmad Ibrahim 'Abdallah Abu 'Aytah. 31 years old, resident of Jabalya R.C., North Gaza district. Killed on 24 Jul 2014, in Jabalya R.C., North Gaza district, by gunfire from an aircraft. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Killed together with his parents, son, and brother in their home in a strike on the neighboring house, which was empty.
B'Tselem seems to be saying that it is quite aware of the IDF report that there was a weapons cache in the house of the Hamas operative next door, and instead of reporting about it - which is what an ethical fact-finding organization should do - it chooses to pretend that there is no counter-evidence to its conclusions.

UPDATE: B'Tselem, in an earlier report, actually mentioned a legitimate military target in this case that it ignored in the application: (h/t Bob Knot)
At around 1:30 A.M. on 24 July 2014, the air force attacked a house in Jabaliya R.C. in the northern Gaza Strip. One of the sons of the man who owned the targeted building is a member of Hamas’ military branch.

There is a reason why Amnesty and B'Tselem are choosing to do these exhaustive and misleading or false investigations into Protective Edge. I hope to discuss this tomorrow.




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