x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Israel army closes inquiry into deaths of 21 Gazans

The Israeli military says it will not file any charge in what was one of the gravest incidents in the 2009 war in the Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM // The Israeli military closed its investigation into the shelling deaths of 21 members of a Palestinian family, and said it would not file any charge in what was one of the gravest incidents in the 2009 war in the Gaza Strip.

The military's move, which exonerates Israeli soldiers from any responsibility in the killings, outraged relatives and the Israeli human-rights group that had pressed for the inquiry. They said the findings proved the army is not capable of investigating the conduct of its soldiers.

"We are talking about a crime against civilians," said Salah Samouni, 34, whose two-year-old daughter was killed when Israeli shells struck the Gaza City house where the family had gathered.

"We know that God above will punish the killers. If they escaped trial, they can't escape God's punishment."

Israel launched the three-week offensive in Gaza in response to months of rocket fire by Hamas. About 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, including hundreds of civilians, and thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged. Thirteen Israelis also died.

Surviving members of the Samouni family had claimed the family was ordered by Israeli soldiers to take refuge in a house that was then shelled, killing 21 people.