Press Releases

Israeli Investigation Committee Report on 2002 Bombing Attests to Ineligibility of Israeli Investigations into Violations of International Law.<br>Al Mezan Calls on the International Community to Implement the Recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Missio

    Share :

28 February 2011 |Reference 11/2011

An Israeli governmental committee appointed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 to investigate the killing of Salah Shehadeh, a senior military commander of the military wing of Hamas, concluded its investigations and submitted its report to the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday 27 February 2011.
The Committee was appointed in 2008, following a High Court appeal by Yesh Gvul and leftist activist Yoav Hass.
At around midnight on Monday 22 June 2002, an Israeli aircraft dropped a one ton bomb on the house of Salah Shehadeh.
As a result, Shehadeh and another 13 persons were killed including eight children, a two month old infant, and two mothers.
An additional 150 persons were injured and 69 houses were damaged in the attack.
[1]   In its report the Committee stated that Israeli military and political officials should not be forced to assume personal responsibility for the assassination of Salah Shehadeh and the deaths of the civilians and children.
The Committee also clarified that the results of the attack were 'unintended, undesired and unforeseen' and added that the consequences of the airstrike were not due to disregard or indifference to human lives.
  The committee justified the Israeli airstrike that attacked Shehadeh stating:   targeted killing against Shehadeh was imperative because of the increase and escalation in terrorist attacks since 2000, in a manner which led to a situation of actual war, classified as an 'armed conflict'.
[2]   The report indicates that all those involved in the operation were aware of the possibility that civilians could be hurt, but alleges that it was intended that civilian injuries and casualties would be kept to a minimum.
However, the report reveals that there was an obvious gap between what was expected and what actually occurred.
It stated that the main reason for this gap was due to incomplete, unfocused and inconsistent intelligence information with regards to the presence of civilians in the structures adjacent to the Shehadeh house.
The Committee asserted that that 'too much weight was placed on the immediate strike on Shehadeh, and too little weight was given to the possible risk to uninvolved civilians as a result of the strike.
'[3] The Committee has not recommended taking personal measures against any of those who committed and/or ordered the attack.
The Committee justified its recommendation of not holding any official responsible because 'many years have passed since the attack'.
Those who committed and/or ordered the attack are now working at the Knesset and the government.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights finds it imperative to restate crucial facts that seem to have been ignored in the Committee report, a practice which is in line with Israeli officials’ justification for such attacks.
The Israeli political and military officials asserted that they were unaware of the presence of civilians in the targeted house and adjacent houses despite:   The Israeli aircraft attacked a densely populated area that is well-known by the Israeli army, which has kept detailed maps for Palestinian cities in the Gaza Strip since the start of the 40 years plus military occupation.
Israel also has updated, accurate demographic information about the area through reconnaissance drones which fly continuously over the Gaza Strip.
The people who knew that Salah Shehadeh was in that house also knew that there were civilians in their homes; people whose addresses and names were in the Israeli-controlled civil registry.
  Israeli jets dropped a one-ton bomb on the area, as also evidenced by the major destruction.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigation into the attack, eight houses were completely destroyed and 61 houses were partially damaged.
The selection of the ammunition used in the attack by Israeli commanders, who know the scope of the damage it could cause and the demography of the area, asserts that the IOF did not pay due attention to civilian life and property.
The claim that Shehadeh was the target cannot justify the selection and use of this ammunition - a one ton bomb, in a densely populated area.
The airstrike was carried out at around midnight when people are usually in bed.
This means that people who live in that area including Shehadeh’s family members were in their homes.
Therefore, it was expected that there would be a high number of civilian casualties and injuries.
Extra-judicial killing is a crime that has no statute of limitation and those responsible for committing and/or ordering the attack have committed such a crime and must be held responsible even if they no longer serve in the positions they had when they committed it.
This committee’s conclusions represent an assertion of Israel's official position immediately after the attack on Shehadeh.
It tries to sideline Israel’s legal and moral obligations towards this conduct by falsely alleging lack of knowledge as to the nature of the area and its high population density.
This represents a new attempt to avoid admitting that the attack was carried out in a way that violated international law, which holds persons involved criminally responsible.
In doing so, the committee has resorted to fabricating the reality.
Establishing misleading facts is a systematic behavior of Israeli judicial and governmental investigative bodies that puts more weight on Israel evading its responsibility for violating international law than on establishing facts and justice.
Once more, Israel has proven its unwillingness as well as its ineligibility to conduct objective, impartial investigations into suspected war crimes committed by its army.
Recent investigations initiated by the Israeli military have been closed without holding commanders or soldiers accountable to serious violations of international law, even in cases where the testimonies of Palestinian victims are similar to those of Israeli soldiers, in cases which established that premeditated attacks occurred against Palestinian civilians and their properties, and in cases that used Palestinians as human shields.
Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to implement the recommendations of the UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report (the Goldstone Report).
The Report urges the parties to initiate impartial, objective, and credible investigations into grave violations of international law committed by Israel.
These violations are tantamount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
Investigations carried out by Israeli military bodies do not  meet the standards required by international law.
Therefore, amid Israel’s continued persistence not to initiate investigations in compliance with international law, Al Mezan calls on the international community to put into effect other available international justice mechanisms, including referring the case to the International Court of Justice.
This new committee report is another reason to continue the efforts to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice, combat impunity, and establish justice for the victims.
Failure to do so, it is only expected that more crimes will be committed now and in the future.
[1] For more information see “One of our Biggest Successes” a report concerning the Israeli bombardment of the Daraj district of Gaza City at  http://www.
pdf [2] http://www.
346067 [3] Ibid.