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Dec 7, 2014 8:47 AM

Israel to probe 1 of deadliest Gaza war strikes

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) Israel's military ordered a criminal investigation of one of its deadliest airstrikes in last summer's war in the Gaza Strip an attack that killed 24 members of one family, most of them children, according to death certificates obtained by The Associated Press.

The probe was one of eight criminal investigations announced late Saturday, bringing the total of such probes to 13. The other new cases include suspected looting, the killing of two ambulance drivers and the killing of a Gaza man carrying a white flag.

The military said it closed seven other cases of alleged wrongdoing by troops after an internal review, while 85 incidents are still being examined.

The military said it is committed to reviewing, investigating and examining "exceptional incidents" that might have taken place during its 50-day war with the Islamic militant Hamas in July and August.

Israeli human rights groups have demanded an independent investigation of the war.

Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli rights group B'Tselem said that much of the harm to Palestinian civilians resulted from policies "that were made by high-ranking military commanders and by the political echelon." Military police investigations of particular incidents "cannot deal with the issue," she said.

One of the newly announced investigations focuses on a July 20 airstrike on the home of the Abu Jamea family. The house was filled with family members getting ready for the evening meal breaking the dawn-to-dusk fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, survivors said.

The strike killed 24 family members, relatives said. The Associated Press was given 23 death certificates, including those of 18 children between six months and nine years.

The apparent target was Ahmed Sahmoud, a local Hamas commander who was killed in the strike. The family has not said what connection it had to him.

The military said that there was "reasonable suspicion" the strike violated army rules.

More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the war, most civilians, according to U.N. figures. The army says up to half were militants.

On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed.


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