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Israel says 'lack of evidence' in Gaza death probe

April 12, 2011 6:34 P.M. (Updated: April 14, 2011 9:31 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's military advocate general is to close an investigation into the shooting deaths of four Palestinian civilians who were carrying a white flag, a military spokeswoman told AFP on Tuesday.

"Due to lack of evidence, the army advocate general Avishai Mendelblit is to close the inquiry into the death of four Palestinians on January 5, 2009, in the Zaytoun area of Gaza City," the spokeswoman said.

According to Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, four members of the Haji family, including their three-year-old daughter, were killed and another nine people were injured when an Israeli tank opened fire on them, despite the fact that they were holding a white flag.

The incident was among those mentioned in a report authored by jurist Richard Goldstone into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Israel's December 2008-January 2009 Operation Cast Lead.

The 22-day war claimed the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians -- more than half civilians -- and 13 Israelis, including 10 soldiers.

The Goldstone report criticized both Israel and militant group Hamas for their conduct during the conflict and called on both sides to carry out investigations into the actions of their fighters.

The Israeli military says it has carried out internal investigations into 400 allegations of lapses in military discipline by its troops during the conflict.

B'Tselem said it had no immediate comment on the closure of the investigation.
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