Findings Indicate: Hamas Bomb Killed Arab Family

Despite hasty condemnation of Israel, IDF finds that the Arab family decimated on a Gaza beach was not hit by IDF artillery. The only other option: A Hamas mine placed there against Israel.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 10:02 AM

When seven members of one family were killed in an explosion on a Gaza beach this past Friday afternoon, the world, including many Israelis, was quick to condemn Israel. Israel's policy of firing artillery shells at generally empty areas, in response to ongoing Kassam rocket attacks at Israeli towns and kibbutzim, was immediately blamed.

Both Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz were quick to express sorrow over the incident. Though Halutz said this was not an acceptance of responsibility, that was precisely how it was understood.

"We are not accepting responsibility as long as the investigation has not been completed," Halutz said over the weekend, "and we will be happy to cooperate with the Palestinians in the investigation."

This cooperation did not materialize, however, and in fact the Arabs quickly removed all evidence from the scene - thus raising suspicions that they knew more than they wanted Israel to know.

The IDF investigation quickly ruled out the possibility of air or naval attack, and concentrated only on the option that artillery fire had been responsible. The following findings were then found over the course of the ensuing days:
* The characteristic hole, or "crater," that would have been made by an artillery shell was not found on the scene.
* The timing was off: PA sources claimed the explosion occurred at approximately 16:40 Friday afternoon. However, IDF artillery stopped firing in the vicinity at 16:51, and throughout that time and until at least 16:58, no unusual activity was noticed on the beach.
* Two or three of the wounded were treated in an Israeli hospital, and the shrapnel that wounded at least one of them was not of the type used in Israeli ammunition.

Probably most significantly of all, Israeli intelligence shows that Hamas had placed explosives and mines on the beach against Israeli naval commandos who might try to ambush terrorists using the beach to fire Kassam rockets. It was likely a Hamas-placed bomb of this type that killed the Arab family.

The seven victims included Ali Ghaliya, one of his two wives, and five of his eleven or more children. The film clip of one survivor, 12-year-old Huda, whose mother survived as well, was screened repeatedly around the world, showing her shrieking in agony as she ran among the bodies. All the news reports attributed the deaths to Israeli shelling.

Huda was quickly "adopted" by PA politicians and publicists who seized upon the tragedy for their own purposes. Within hours after seeing her family largely erased, she starred in a press conference, flanked by Palestinian Authority officials who made lengthy speeches. She was also brought to the office of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and Ismail Haniya, his Hamas rival and PA prime minister, visited the family home.

The findings of the IDF investigation are not yet final, and were reported last night on Channel Two television. The official report will be presented to Defense Minister Peretz tonight.