Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Israel didn't cause beach deaths?

As I mentioned yesterday, there was some evidence that Israeli artillery did not cause the Gaza Beach explosion last week.

That is now solidifying into the official Israeli position.

ccording to the findings, expected to be formally released on Tuesday, shrapnel taken from two wounded Palestinians who were evacuated to Israeli hospitals showed that the explosives were not made in Israel, IDF officials said.

Moreover, the investigation noted the absence of a large enough crater at the site of the explosion, as would be expected if an IDF shell had landed there.

The third observation casting doubt on the possibility that IDF shelling was the cause of the Palestinian deaths was that the IDF had accounted for five of the six shells that it fired in the area before the explosion and the shell that was unaccounted for was fired more than 10 minutes before the blast that killed the Palestinians.

The IDF report speculates that the explosion was caused by a Palestinian landmine, placed on the beach to keep sraeli commandos from coming ashore there.

This is not conclusive proof, and will likely be dismissed as propaganda in much of Palestine. Indeed, Human Rights Watch disputes the IDF conclusions:

Human Rights Watch said its investigation of the incident came up with opposite conclusions in almost every case.

The group said most of the injuries to the dead were to the head and torso. A Human Rights Watch spokesman said that would be consistent with an incoming shell, not a bomb buried in the ground.

Human Rights Watch also said the crater was consistent with a 155 mm artillery shell.

They can't both be right. But this should at least cause people to step back from the barricades and down from the podiums, and wait for more facts to come to light before assigning blame and stoking passions.

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