A mother and four children were killed in the Gaza Strip today after an explosive device carried by terrorists blew up.
(Communicated by the IDF spokesman)
During the IDF operation this morning (Monday, 28 April 2008) in northern Gaza, the IDF targeted from the air two Palestinian gunmen who were approaching the soldiers while carrying large bags on their backs. Following the strike against the two, a large explosion erupted on the scene – indicating the presence of bombs and explosives in the gunmen’s bags. As a result of this large explosion, extensive damage was caused to a house that was near the gunmen and uninvolved civilians were hit.
The IDF Spokesperson wishes to stress that the responsibility for the injuring and killing of uninvolved civilians lies with the terrorist organization Hamas, which operates within civilian population, using them as human shields and risking their lives by keeping bombs and explosives near them.
Further inquiry into today’s incident in Gaza
Following publications in the media, the IDF wishes to clarify that during a complicated operation this morning in Northern Gaza, the IDF carried out an aerial attack and identified hitting two Palestinian gunmen. An initial IDF investigation was carried out soon after the incident. The initial investigation shows that a secondary and large explosion took place due to the blast of explosives that the gunmen were carrying. The blast took place in the proximity of a home, probably the home where the civilians and children that were hit today were staying.
Due to the sensitivity of the matter and the complexity of the battle this morning, engaged by various IDF forces, additional inquiries are to be carried out, in order to eliminate any possible doubt regarding the accuracy of the aforementioned circumstances. Having consulted with the IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Eliyezer Shkedi, the GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, ordered the appointment of a Colonel, the Artillery Commander of the Southern Command, to investigate all aspects of this incident and to present his findings within 48 hours.
The State of Israel and the IDF place complete and utter responsibility on the Hamas terrorist organization for the injury and killing of uninvolved civilians. By intentionally operating from within heavily populated areas, and using them for cover, the terrorist organization exploits civilians as human shields.
1 May 2008
The GOC Southern Command has extended the time allotted to investigate the incident to ensure that the investigation is as thorough as possible.
At the weekly Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, 29 April, the Cabinet discussed the situation in Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip in light of the fighting there. Prime Minister Olmert made the following remarks: “Since the morning, the communities of the western Negev have been under Kassam missile and mortar fire. One of the rockets even directly struck a house; luckily, nobody was hurt. These barrages join the 18 Kassam rockets that were fired at Israel yesterday.
The background to this latest escalation is yesterday’s IDF action in the northern Gaza Strip, in an effort to foil terrorist actions directed against Israel. During the activity, IDF forces identified a terrorist cell that was operating amidst a civilian population, from within a settled area. The IDF’s attempt to strike directly at the cell, as well as the ensuing exchanges of fire, ended tragically when a mother and her four children were killed as they ate breakfast.
The IDF is investigating the event (see above) and checking whether the family was hit by fire from our forces or as the result of the explosion of bombs being carried by the terrorists. In any case, this was a tragic and regrettable incident that resulted in innocents being hurt. In contrast to our enemies in Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations, who danced in the streets when a Kassam rocket led to the amputation of an eight-year-old Israeli boy’s leg, the Government and people of Israel are very much saddened when any innocent life is lost, and certainly the lives of a mother and her four children, in the context of the unavoidable fighting in the south, . We are very saddened by this.
We are very saddened that Israeli citizens have been attacked for years. We are saddened by the eight-year-old boy who lost a leg on 9 February, due to a Kassam rocket attack. We are very saddened by the acts of terrorism that mar their lives, disrupt their quality of life and destroy their ability to lead quiet, secure and happy lives. We are saddened that Hamas operates from within populated areas, turns the civilian population in Gaza to an inseparable part of its war and exposes this population – against our will and against our intention – to the sometimes likely possibility that it will be hit as a result of the undeniable and unavoidable need to defend the lives of those living in the south.
It is Hamas that bears full responsibility for the tragic events taking
place in the Gaza Strip. It is this organization which perpetrates and encourages wide-ranging terrorism against Israel from within the heart of populated areas. It has brought ruin upon two peoples and it feeds the cycle of blood and tragedy. This organization tries to harm hundreds of thousands of Israelis every day and rejoices every time it does so. It systematically inflicts misery on Gazans’ lives and has tried repeatedly to strike at the crossings that constitute a lifeline for them.
For its part, Israel makes every effort to avoid hitting innocent civilians, investigates and applies the lessons, and is preventing a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas is interested in promoting. We will have no truck with these despicable terrorists and will continue our struggle against them until quiet and security are achieved for the residents of Israel.
I very much hope that the brutal fighting by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip against Israeli citizens will stop. But as long as it does not, we will need to fight in order to defend ourselves. We are saddened whenever uninvolved civilians are killed, and I believe that our sadness is more genuine, more sincere and more painful than the false and self-righteous sadness of the terrorist organizations, which expose their civilians to situations that end in such tragedies.”