Friday, August 26, 2016

  • Friday, August 26, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon


From The Independent (UK):

Human rights groups have claimed the Israeli military investigations are biased and ineffective and have called for an impartial inquiry into the alleged war crimes.

The most deadly case which was closed without charges on Wednesday was an investigation into the killing of 15 members of the same family by an air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza.

The military said the building targeted by the strike that killed the family was a Hamas command centre, a claim refuted by relatives of those killed. It ruled the air strike was in line with international law, although it conceded civilian casualties were higher than anticipated, AP reported.

"The attack complied with the principle of proportionality, as at the time the decision to attack was taken it was considered that the collateral damage expected to arise as a result of the attack would not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated from it," it said.

"This assessment was not unreasonable under the circumstances, despite the discovery, in the wake of the strike, of discrepancies between the reality prevailing on the ground and the information available at the time."

Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, told The Independent: "We do not believe that either the Israeli or Palestinian authorities are conducting adequate domestic investigations into serious allegations of war crimes.

"The Israeli military investigative system has proven to be unwilling to examine decisions made at a senior level that appear to violate the laws of war, including targeting apparently civilian objects such as residential buildings and firing heavy artillery into densely populated civilian areas.

The Independent should look at both sides of the story. But here's what it did: for the Israeli side, it quoted AP's partial quote of the report, but it then went to the trouble of talking to critics of Israel from Human Rights Watch and publishing an unsourced claim that relatives "refuted" Israel's version.

What could the Independent have done?

Well, it could have bothered to read the entire section of the inquiry report about the Zoaroub family. Because one of the people killed in the strike was a senior Hamas military commander and relative of the family, Nazmi Zoaroub.
The factual findings collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG, indicate that on August 1, 2014, the IDF carried out an aerial strike on a building, which was an active command and control center of the Hamas terror organization. The attack aimed to neutralize both the command and control center and the military operatives who, according to assessments, were manning it, with special regard to Nazmi Zouarob, a senior military operative in the Hamas, who was carrying out military operations from within the structure.

During the planning stages of the strike, it was assessed that the extent of the collateral damage expected to result from the attack would not be excessive in relation to the significant military advantage that was anticipated to result from a strike on the command and control center and the military operatives manning it. The strike on the building was planned for execution by means of a precise munition and in a way which would allow for the attack's aim to be achieved whilst minimizing harm to an adjacent building. It was further found, that it would not have been possible to provide a warning prior to the strike on the building, as such a warning would have frustrated the objective of the attack.

In practice, it became clear in the wake of the strike that there had been discrepancies between the information on the basis of which the strike was carried out and the facts which were revealed in its wake. As such, it is alleged that as a result of the attack, around 15 individuals were killed (as mentioned above, the precise number of the fatalities varies from report to report). It appears that a number of the fatalities had been residents of the building, while others were visiting the premises. According to the FFA Mechanism's findings, among the deceased was the senior military operative, Nazmi Zouarob.
Nazmi Zouarob died eleven days after the airstrike in the hospital, so he is not listed among the people killed in the house.

Here's Nazmi making his martyr's video with his immediate family:


If Nazmi Zouarob was using the house as a command and control center - which is highly likely if he was killed there - that means that his relatives were either willing accomplices by allowing their house to be used by Hamas, or they were unwilling human shields. Either way, their deaths are Hamas' fault, not Israel's, although the IDF admits that it did not know how many civilians were in the house at the time and may have chosen another time or type of attack if it had known. 

The Independent could have bothered to read the report and seen that a senior Hamas commander was present - but it didn't bother to. It did spend the time to get quotes from Sari Bashi, though, who knows nothing about this specific case. 



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