Jerusalem, 2 August 2002

Findings of the inquiry into the death of Salah Shehadeh
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

The inquiry of the IDF action in which Salah Shehadeh, head of the military arm of the Hamas in Gaza, was killed (on 22 July) was concluded this afternoon.

A very thorough inquiry was conducted jointly by the IDF and the ISA (Israeli Security Agency), and its findings were submitted today to the Minister of Defense.

Salah Shehadeh, head of the terrorist arm that operated in the Gaza Strip as well as in Judea and Samaria, was among the founders of the Hamas and directly responsible for initiating and directing dozens of attacks carried out over the last two years, in which dozens of Israeli citizens have been killed and hundreds injured. In addition, he was behind the financing of laboratories for the production of Kassam missiles and was personally involved in the purchase and manufacture of arms.

Recently, Shehadeh was involved in the planning and execution of serious attacks, including outfitting a truck with 600 kilograms of explosives for the purpose of blowing up the Gush Katif Bridge, infiltrating terrorists into Israel in order to carry out a mass attack at crowded places in Beer Sheba, as well as other bomb attacks.

The inquiry findings show that the procedures followed in the IDF operation were correct and professional, as were the operational assessments.

The operation resulted in the elimination of a major terrorist leader, who was sought through intelligence and operational means for a long time. At the same time, the inquiry found shortcomings in the information available, and the evaluation of that information, concerning the presence of innocent civilians near Shehadeh, who at the time was in an operational hide-out.

The IDF and the ISA stated that if their information had indicated with certainty the presence of innocent civilians in Shehadeh’s vicinity, the timing or the method of the action would have been changed, as was done a number of times in the past.

As a result of the inquiry’s findings, conclusions were drawn with important implications for future operations, to avoid a recurrence of such a case in the future.

The IDF and the ISA will persist in fighting terrorism and preventing terrorist attacks against Israelis, while continuing to take all possible measures to prevent harm to innocent civilians in the vicinity.