Israeli military cleared on Wednesday its occupation forces of war crimes in incidents of killing civilians during Israeli major offensive on the coastal enclave in 2014.
One of the incidents included an airstrike that killed 15 members of a single family. However, incidents where 25 and over members of same families were excluded from the investigation. The Israeli investigative process is at the heart of a Palestinian case to press for war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Palestinians say Israel has a poor record of prosecuting wrongdoing in its ranks.
In a statement Wednesday, the military said it closed seven investigations without filing charges after a special team collected testimony from Gaza residents and Israeli officers. One of the deadliest incident involved an airstrike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on August 1, 2014, that killed 15 members of the Zoroub family. The statement concluded that the airstrike was in line with international law, claiming that the international law allows attacks on homes doubted to be used for military purposes despite existence of many civilians. “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,” it added. Adel Zoroub, whose sister’s home was destroyed, rejected the army’s findings. He said Nazmi Zoroub, whom the Israeli military claimed it targeted the house during his existence, was wounded in a different Israeli attack and was not in the building. “The Zionists justify their massacres by saying they target militants,” he said. “This is nonsense because all of Rafah knows that Nazmi was killed in a home far away.” The army also said it would not file charges in a July 21, 2014, incident that left 12 members of the Siyam family in Rafah dead. It said it could not find evidence to back claims that they were killed by an Israeli airstrike. The army also found no wrongdoing in an airstrike a day earlier that killed seven members of the Ziyadeh family in the Bureij refugee camp. It claimed the building had been used as a command and control centre by Hamas and that several militants, including three members of the family and a top Hamas military leader, were among the dead.