The Israeli military has said that the investigations into one of the bloodiest incidents of the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip have found no criminal wrong doing by Israeli forces.
Palestinians and human rights advocates have condemned the statement, accusing the military of a whitewash. The investigation concentrated on the battle in the southern Gaza town of Rafah that erupted after an Israeli military officer was feared abducted by Palestinian rebels during a cease-fire.
More than 110 Palestinians were killed in the operation and Palestinian witnesses complained of indiscriminate shelling by Israeli forces. The army said its military feared that a soldier had fallen into enemy hands and invoked a procedure that allowed the heavy use of force to prevent the capture of the soldier.
The area was attacked by the Israeli forces with artillery fire, tanks shells and airstrikes. The Palestinian residents described a terrifying tribulation as they searched for cover amid heavy shelling. According to a Human rights groups, at least 121 people were killed in the incident. The group also accused Israel of committing war crimes and failing to distinguish between civilians and combatants.
On the other hand, Israeli investigation identified over 110 dead, including 42 militants and up to 72 civilians. In one instance, it said 16 civilians were killed in an airstrike on a family home that was targeted due to faulty intelligence.
The Israeli military has often been accused of ignoring or covering up wrongdoing in its investigations over the years. “The military advocate general proves again that no matter how high the number of Palestinians killed is, the Israeli whitewash machinery will find a way to bury the facts,” it said.
A local who lost his 3 family member on that day says that the army’s findings are crazy. His toddler son lost his legs in the shelling. “They were bombing us from the ground and air randomly. They did not just violate the human rights, they forgot that there were humans in Rafah,” he said.
Over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, and widespread damage was inflicted on Gaza’s infrastructure in 2014, which was the deadliest year in the country.