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Israel: 'Malfunction' caused Gaza massacre

April 22, 2009 5:54 P.M. (Updated: April 22, 2009 5:54 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli military said internal investigations showed it acted according to law during the three-week offensive against the Gaza Strip, but that 'malfunctions' resulted in the deaths of innocents.

On Tuesday the military said it concluded five separate investigations into the shelling of UN installations, the targeting of medical personnel and facilities, the killing of civilians, the use of the incendiary weapon white phosphorus, and the destruction of buildings by ground forces.

The military's report prominently addressed one of the most horrific single moments of the Gaza war: the killing of 21 civilian members of the Ad-Daya family, including women and young children, in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

According to witness accounts and reports by human rights organizations, Israeli warplanes bombed the house of 60-year-old Fayiz Ad-Daya, where dozens of relatives had taken shelter, at 6am on 6 January.

The bodies were removed from the rubble over the next few days. The victims ranged in age between four and 60, including Fayiz Ad-Daya himself.

In its report released on Wednesday, the military claimed that it was attempting to bomb a house dozens of meters away that it alleged was being used to store weapons. It said it phoned the house to order its occupants to evacuate.

Then, through a malfunction in the targeting system of the attacking aircraft, a missile struck the Ad-Daya home instead.

The Israeli military called the killings "regretful," but said it resulted from "an operational mistake that is bound to happen during intensive fighting."

The findings come exactly a week after Israel announced it would not cooperate with a UN investigation into alleged violations of international law led by South African Justice Richard Goldstone.

An independent UN investigation into Israeli actions causing damage to UN buildings is expected in the coming days.

"Throughout the fighting in Gaza, the IDF operated in accordance with international law," the military said in a statement released on Wednesday.

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