Defense Minister Amir Peretz, IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Major General Meir Kalifi held a press conference in Tel Aviv (June 13) to present the findings of the investigation.
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
Following is a summary of the information presented on Tuesday, 13 June 2006:
Defense Minister Peretz: "We have enough findings to back up the suspicion that the intention to describe this as an Israeli event is simply not correct. The accumulating evidence proves that this incident was not due to Israeli forces."
Maj Gen. Meir Kalifi: In order to determine whether the claim that the IDF was responsible for the incident on the Gaza shore on Friday was true or false we needed to determine the exact time and place of the incident. The investigation was based on intelligence analysis, Palestinian claims, media coverage of the incident and IDF filmed footage that documented all IDF activity during that day.
We can say that the incident took place 150 meters from a place we call the "Casino". The time of the incident was between 16:57-17:10. We came to this conclusion by analyzing three films. The first shows nothing irregular or unusual that might indicate that a large explosion took place in a range of 50 meters from the place of the incident on the beach between 16:54-16:57. A second film, from around 18:30, depicts people’s behavior after the explosion, proving that the incident must have occurred before then. The third film shows the arrival of the ambulances at 17:15 which brings us to the conclusion that the incident occurred not before 16:57 and not after 17:10.
Taking this timeline in account we have checked all reports of IDF fire on that day. I can without doubt say that no means used by the IDF during this time period caused the incident. The closest IAF attack took place 2.5 kilometers north of the site and occurred after 17:15.
Concerning naval fire, 17 shells were fired at areas 700 meters from the site of the incident. The naval shells fired in proximity to the location of the explosion landed between 11:00 AM and 12:00 noon. We have documentation of where all the shells landed. It proves that all shells were launched approximately four hours before the incident.
We can also dismiss the cause being an IDF artillery shell, launched from the land. During those hours we fired six shells at a target called Reshef 31. In order to make sure we do not hit areas with citizens we fired range-adjustment fire approximately 580-600 meters north of the target. Using a special system we can precisely account for the places where five of the six shells landed. The first shell which was fired was not identified by the system, btt the possibility of the first shell fired from the battery causing the incident is close to zero, as it was launched at around 16:30.
In addition a piece of shrapnel was found in the wound of one of the Palestinians who was injured and received medical treatment in Israel. The shrapnel was taken for examination in a laboratory. The examination showed that, without a doubt, the shrapnel was not a part of an IDF artillery shell.
So, all possibilities that the cause of the explosion was an artillery shell fired on that Friday have been disproved.
Chief of Staff Halutz: We need to remember the context of this incident. In the past few weeks Israeli civilians who live in the western Negev, especially in the city of Sderot, have been under a constant shower of Qassam rockets. We are operating in order to reduce this.
Concerning the incident on the Gaza beach:
On Saturday evening I expressed our regret for the members of the Palestinian family who were killed, and I emphasized that expressing regret does not mean taking responsibility. Today I state clearly we still regret the incident, but we are not responsible for it.
Concerning the aerial attack in Gaza City (Tuesday, June 13) :
Today’s event should also be looked upon in context: the attempt to launch Katyusha rockets. May I remind you that Katyusha rockets have a longer range than Qassams. They can reach deeper into the western and northern Negev. That is why we are so determined to stop the launching of Katyusha rockets.
We regret hitting those who were not involved in terror activity, and still, I remind you that terror organizations operate in populated areas and we will not allow terror cells to carry out attacks against Israel under that cover. The Palestinian Authority and the Palestinians need to take all means needed in order to stop the launching of projectile rockets.
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Additional findings confirm: Shrapnel not from IDF shell
22 June 2006
The investigative committee headed by Major General Meir Kalifi continues to investigate the causes of the June 9 explosion on the coast of Gaza.
"I can say unequivocally that all findings to date confirm the central conclusion of the Investigative Committee: that the incident did not result from fire by IDF forces that day," Major General Kalifi said this evening.
An additional piece of shrapnel was removed during surgery on Adham Ralya on Wednesday, June 14, and was sent for initial analysis by the IDF Technology Unit. "Examination of the second piece of shrapnel," said Major General Kalifi, "proves conclusively that this was not a 155-mm shell. As also has been demonstrated by the first piece of shrapnel, based on analysis of the composition and content of the shrapnel, and of course on examination of the explosive compounds found on the second piece, evidence of 155-mm shells was clearly absent."
All new evidence obtained to date thus confirms the central conclusion of the Investigative Committee: that the event did not result from IDF fire during the day’s operations.
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(Communicated by the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center Spokeswoman)
20 June 2006
Rania Niham, who was wounded in the Gaza beach incident on 9 June 2006, and who was brought to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center for treatment, has regained consciousness. She suffers from injuries to her upper limbs and stomach; her condition is still defined as serious.
She arrived at the hospital in Tel Aviv in very serious condition, unconscious, suffering from severe injuries and with numerous cuts over her entire body as a result of surgical interventions prior to her arrival at the hospital and which do not correspond to the injuries she suffered.
In response to questions that have been directed to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in recent days by various media outlets, we would like to make it clear that no fragments were found in her body except for one fragment that is inaccessible to surgery; it is also clear – beyond all doubt – that part of her injuries were caused by fragments.
This combination is not routine and does not correspond to our accumulated medical experience as a result of having treated hundreds of patients who were wounded in terrorist attacks and by bombs and who usually arrive with fragments in various places throughout their bodies.
In such cases, standard medical practice is not to search for or extract the fragments unless they constitute an immediate danger to the patient. This is also the reason that, in most cases, fragments remain in the patients’ bodies, frequently for the rest of their lives.