ISRAEL COMPLETELY CLEARED OF GAZA BLAST
Unofficial Summary of Press Conference Plus Comments
By Dr. Mike Cohen, Senior Analyst, The Galilee Institute
JERUSALEM: June 13, 2006: Israel has determined conclusively and without
reservation that IDF fire was not the cause of the explosion which killed
members of a local Gaza family and injured others on Friday.
The Israel Defense Forces committee formed to investigate the allegations that
Israel artillery fire was responsible for civilian deaths on the Gaza beach last
Friday reported on its conclusions today. Defense Minister Amir Peretz, IDF
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Major General Meir Kalifi stood before the press
Tuesday evening (June 13, 2006) and presented the findings.
Showing aerial photographs and filmed documentation Gen. Klifi, head of the
Israeli inquiry, declared: "There is no chance that a shell hit this area at
this time. Absolutely no chance."
The committee found that the blast was probably caused by an explosive device
buried in the sand, but has not yet determined whether it was planted by local
Palestinians as a counter measure to possible Israeli incursions or whether it
was an old IDF dud.
The findings ruling out the possibility of IDF artillery as the cause of the
blast are complex and take into account the elements of time, material and
location. The findings are based on intelligence sources, filmed documentation
from a number of angles, cross-referencing and triangulation of computerized and
visual data and more.
A. The Context:
- Over 100 Kassam rockets have been launched from the northern
Gaza Strip city of Beit Lahiya into Israel by Hamas and Fatah this past week,
several of them hitting a school, a kindergarten and private houses. In addition
to the Kassam attacks, Russian 122 mm caliber Grad missiles, officially known as
BM-21 or Katyusha rockets have recently been introduced to the sector and now
pose a threat to Israel of some 12.7 miles or 20.4 km (see map at
- The Hamas and Fatah missiles are being launched from within
populated areas, thus not only abusing the human rights of the local Gaza
residents but also creating a cynical attempt to draw Israeli fire at innocent
civilians in order to gain media "brownie points."
- The Hamas and Fatah missiles are being launched from a region Israel
evacuated and turned over to full Palestinian Authority control less that one
year ago, while tearing Jewish families away from their homes of 35 years
against their own will. Israel made clear that it will not tolerate terrorist
activity targeting its civilian population and gave the PA police plenty of
time, information and arms with which to stop the perpetrators.
- In response to the continued aerial assaults on the City of Sderot and
other towns in southern Israel, the IDF has begun to employ airpower, sea-based
artillary and ground to ground fire.
- It is important to note that the employment of these three strategic assets
and the introduction of the Katyusha rocket by the Hamas and Fatah terrorists in
Gaza constitutes a new phase in this war, a war which Israel must engage in and
win if it is to stop the continuous launch of rockets against Israel's civilian
B. The Shrapnel:
- Three people wounded in the blast are now hospitalized in Israel. Shrapnel
removed from their bodies show conclusively that the explosion was caused by a
bomb rather than an Israeli shell.
C. The Crater:
- Based on photographs and testimonial descriptions, the crater left on the
beach by the blast was made by an explosion from below (a mine), and not a hit
from above (a shell).
- Israel has amassed considerable information indicating that over the past
few weeks Hamas has been systematically mining the northern Gaza Beach in an
attempt to keep Israeli commandos from landing there.
E. Time of Blast:
- The Palestinian Center for Human Rights claims that the "attack" took place at
16:40 on Friday
- From 16:54 to 16:57 Israeli surveillance made public today shows that the
family on the Gaza beach was engaged in normal every-day activity.
- The surveillance documentation revealed today continues to show major
activity in the area at 17:10 meaning that the blast took place sometime between
16:57 and 17:09.
- At 17:15 ambulances begin to arrive from the local hospital â€“ a five to
eight minute drive from the location of the blast.
F. Time of Israeli Activity:
- The Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked an area 2.5 KM north of the
blast at 17:15, AFTER ambulances had already arrived on the scene.
- Earlier attacks took place, also to the north, many hours earlier in the
- Israeli Navy boats fired 17 shots from its 166 meter guns at a
location near the destroyed former Israeli town of Dugit from 11:00 till around
noon that morning. All 17 shells are accounted for, with multiple visual and
computerized verification systems, all falling some 700 meters north of the
- Between 16:31 and 16:35 Israel fired six times from its ground to ground 155
mm cannons. Five of the shells, the 2nd through the 6th are fully accounted for,
falling 580-600 meters north of the area the family was in. The first shell is
as yet unaccounted for but carries with it a statistical impossibility of being
that far off range â€“ over half a kilometer from its intended target.