July 1, 2007

AppendixI. Case Study: The GazaBeach Incident

On the afternoon of June 9, 2006, an explosion on a northern Gaza beach killed seven members of the Ghalya family and wounded dozens more Palestinian civilians.[237] The IDF, many journalists, and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch researchers who were in Gaza the next day, conducted inquiries into the incident.[238] Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation of the incident.[239] This chapter lays out the findings of Human Rights Watch's research and its reasons for concluding that an Israeli artillery shell caused the explosion.

Eyewitness Accounts

According to eyewitnesses, the Ghalya family had gone to the beach earlier that day to have lunch and to swim.[240] They decided to cut short their stay when artillery shells started landing on the beach in the distance. After a shell fell 300 to 500 meters away, `Ali `Isa Ghalya, the father, started to gather his two wives and their children near the road to the beach. They collected their belongings and called a taxi. When two more shells fell about 150 meters away, the men were sitting in one group on the beach, and the women in another. A fourth shell-the one that caused the casualties according to witnesses-exploded between the two groups but closer to the women.[241] Eleven-year-old Huda saw that her mother was injured. "My mother told me to escape," Huda told Human Rights Watch at the wake organized for her deceased family members. "I went to my father and then I started screaming."[242]

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Her older brother Ayham, 17, said, "After the third one, we gathered in one spotwaiting for the car. When the fourth shell exploded, I was beside my father. He was injured and I started giving care to him."[243] Ayham's father, `Ali `Isa, died before reaching the hospital.[244]

The family members killed by the fourth shell were: `Ali `Isa Ghalya, 49; Ra'issa Ghalya, 35; `Alia Ghalya, 17; Ilham Ghalya, 15; Sabrin Ghalya, 4; Hanadi Ghalya, 15 months; and Haitham Ghalya, 5 months. Several others were severely injured. Rahia Ghalya suffered a "liver laceration and multiple organ ruptures," according to Dr. Jum`a al-Saqqa of GazaCity's ShifaHospital; she was subsequently evacuated to an Israeli hospital.[245] Several days after the incident 22-year-old Amani, who lost an arm and suffered severe internal injuries, and 7-year-old Latifa, who suffered brain damage, remained in the intensive care unit at ShifaHospital. Hamdia, `Ali's other wife who lost four daughters in the explosion, suffered multiple compound factures to her arms and shrapnel wounds in her abdomen and upper leg.[246]

The Azanin family also suffered casualties in the attack. Hani Radwan Azanin, a 31-year-old taxi driver from Beit Hanoun, had taken his two daughters, 7-year-old Dima and 4-year-old Nagham, to the beach around 2:30 p.m. After the first and second shells fell, hundreds of beachgoers started running for the parking area. "I took my two daughters, carried them," he told Human Rights Watch. "We reached the car. I opened it, put my daughters inside [on the back seat]. When searching [our] stuff, I found I was missing my cell phone. I went back to where I was sitting and didn't find it. It took about two minutes." Then the shell that killed the Ghalyas exploded. "I found pieces of people scattered. I found my car damaged, penetrated by shrapnel. I looked at my daughters and found them screaming, with blood from the back and the front," Azanin said. He drove the car until the engine died several kilometers away. He then loaded his children into an ambulance and went to the Kamal `UdwanHospital in Beit Lahiya.[247] Doctors extracted shrapnel from the girls during surgery.

Mahmud Abu Rabia, 19, was on the beach with 14 members of his family during the Gaza beach explosion on June 9, 2006. The blast caused his intestines to spill out. Six days later he was recuperating at his Beit Lahiya home.

2006 Bonnie Docherty/Human Rights Watch

Sayid Abu Rabia, a 46-year-old construction worker, had taken 14 members of his family to the beach that day because the children wanted to go. As he was preparing for prayers, the first shell fell. "When the first shell hitwe left the car behind, we left our cell phones, and ran away," Abu Rabia said.[248] He ran holding the hands of his sons Ahmad, 15, and Harun, 11. When the shell that killed the Ghalyas exploded, he was about 20 meters away. Ahmad suffered injuries to his right foot, leg, and abdomen.[249] His wife Nada said she saw their 19-year-old son Mahmud, fall to the ground. "He saw his intestines coming out and started holding them. He asked, 'What shall I do?'" she said. "God brought a man with a cart and horse to carry my son."[250] She loaded him on the cart and they all set off for the hospital. Meanwhile Abu Rabia's eldest son, 25-year-old Khamsa, went back to find his crying siblings. Both injured boys returned home from the hospital within six days after the explosion; Mahmud remained bedridden.

Rescuers described to Human Rights Watch the scene they found on the beach that afternoon. Twenty-eight-year-old Muhammad Sawarka came to give aid to the victims until ambulances arrived at the scene. "The legs, we could see inside [them]. The abdomen, we could see the intestines [coming] out. I found a lost [3-year-old] child. The parents didn't come. I gave him to someone to try to find his parents," he said.[251] He said he found the hand of a small child and saw an infant dead inside of a baby carriage, likely Haitham Ghalya.[252]

Persons who were on the beach that day described the incident to Human Rights Watch and provided some clues to the cause of the explosion. They reported hearing or seeing three to five explosions coming increasingly closer to the place where members of the Ghalya family were killed. The IDF stated that it launched eight shells toward an area on the beach "routinely used for rocket launching" between 4:31 and 4:50 p.m.-six from artillery across the border in Israel and two from an Israeli warship.[253] Several witnesses who were on the beach said they heard the whine of incoming shells. Sayid Abu Rabia said, "We have experience with these shells. There is a sound, then it hits. I heard the sound [of the shell that killed the Ghalyas]. I have heard that sound before."[254] Isma`il Ghanim, a 20-year-old worker who was close enough to the incident to be injured himself, said, "I don't think [the explosion that killed the Ghalyas] was from [an unexploded shell in] the ground because I heard it coming. I'm familiar with them."[255]

Analysis

Although the IDF acknowledges it was firing artillery in the area that day, it takes the position (see below) that the explosion responsible for killing the Ghalya family on June 9 was not an artillery shell that Israel fired that day and was probably not an IDF artillery shell at all. After investigating the incident, however, as described below, Human Rights Watch concluded that the deadly explosion was caused by a 155mm Israeli artillery shell. The shrapnel, crater, and injuries all point to this weapon as the cause.

Three scenarios could explain the shell's explosion on the beach that afternoon. First, it could have been a live shell that exploded on the beach as it struck. Second, it could have been an unexploded artillery shell fired earlier that lay in the sand before being detonated by the reverberations of nearby shelling that afternoon-the IDF had shelled the beach area on previous occasions. These two scenarios are the most likely because of the nature of the injuries and the fact that the IDF acknowledges that it shelled other parts of the beach that day. A third hypothesis, advanced by the IDF, is that Palestinian militants may have taken an unexploded IDF shell they found elsewhere and rigged it up as an improvised explosive device (IED) that then exploded, with fatal consequences, on June 9. The IDF suggested that militants might have placed an IED on the beach in order to thwart an IDF landing from the sea.[256] Major General Kalifi did not suggest, however, why the Palestinians might fear an amphibious landing when the IDF has unrestricted access across the 51 kilometer Israel/Gaza land border. The nature of the injuries casts further doubt on the IED explanation.

Shrapnel

The shrapnel from the incident that Human Rights Watch examined in Gaza points to a 155mm artillery shell as the source of the blast that killed the seven Ghalya family members. Human Rights Watch examined shrapnel from four sources. First, it found an approximately 15-centimeter piece of shrapnel near a crater on the beach itself. It was stamped "155mm." The fact that it had not yet oxidized indicated that it was fresh and not from an earlier attack. A week later, the shell fragment had begun to oxidize.

Second, Human Rights Watch found a small copper shell fragment deep in the back of the front seat of Hani Azanin's car. The explosion on the beach that killed the Ghalyas had seriously damaged the vehicle. The blast blew out its windows, and shrapnel pierced the trunk and doors. Fragments that penetrated the car left holes in the seats. By the time Human Rights Watch talked to Hani Azanin, three days after the incident, he had cleaned the car of human flesh and most of the shrapnel.[257] The copper fragment found by Human Rights Watch definitely came from the blast that killed the Ghalyas because this was the blast that caused all the damage to the Azanin car. In all likelihood it came from the copper ring of an artillery shell.

The third piece of shrapnel evidence came from the body of Mahmud Abu Rabia, the 19-year-old-who suffered severe internal injuries. This piece, covered in blood, was a range setting for the timing of an artillery shell fuze. Doctors at the Kamal `UdwanHospital gave it to Mahmud's father, Sayid, who showed it to Human Rights Watch.[258]

Finally, the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team of the Palestinian police found dozens of pieces of shrapnel in the crater of the explosion that killed the Ghalyas. "From our experience and analysis, the [shell fragments] we found belong to 155mm Israeli artillery. It is used by artillery every day in northern Gaza," said Gen. Salah Abu `Azum, head of the EOD team.[259] He and his staff had matched up each fragment with a part of a 155mm shell. For comparison, General Abu `Azum also showed Human Rights Watch Qassam-type rocket fragments, which are visibly much thinner. The EOD team, which was trained in the United States and Europe, indicated it had a high level of familiarity with these and other types of munitions.

Artillery Shell Craters

The crater of the fatal explosion supports the view that a 155mm artillery shell caused the blast. Human Rights Watch examined the crater, as well as two other fresh craters, during its investigation of the beach the day after the attack. It was about 1.5 meters in diameter, the same size as older craters from previous IDF shelling of the beach, and only slightly shallower than those found at the sites of other artillery strikes on soil, probably due to the compactable sand. The crater also had a powder in it consistent with that found in craters caused by 155mm artillery shells. While the powder in the many old craters in the area had grayed over time, the powder in the crater of June 9 was bright white, indicating its freshness. If an unexploded shell from a previous incident caused the explosion, the crater would likely have been similar.

Injuries

The civilians on the beach suffered severe upper body injuries, pointing to a heavy weapon like a 155mm shell. Dr. Nabil al-Shawa of ShifaHospital said, "There was massive soft tissue injury. All of the patients are suffering from multiple injuries, massive destruction of bone, muscle, and skin, chest wounds, intestines outside."[260] Another doctor at the ShifaHospital said he removed shell fragments that were two centimeters thick, which is consistent with the thickness of a 155mm shell.[261]

The location of the injuries also provides a clue to their cause. Doctors reported multiple injuries to the abdomen, arms, and head. There were also some leg injuries, but these were minor. This suggests the injuries were not caused by an IED.

An artillery shell, when set off perpendicular (or close to perpendicular) to the ground releases a cone of explosion that travels upwards.[262] This cone causes primarily upper body injuries. An unexploded shell from a previous incident, depending on its angle of impact, would also probably be perpendicular. This pattern strongly suggests that the shell was not used as part of an IED, which would most likely be buried horizontally because it is easier to roll a shell into a shallow hole than dig a much deeper hole and lower it in.

"If we want to assume a kid played [with an IED], he [including his lower body] would have been torn to pieces. Where is that child? No one was shattered into pieces [that way]," said EOD chief General Abu `Azum.[263] An IED would cause lower body injuries even if it were triggered by the IDF artillery barrage further down the beach that day. The IDF suggested that if artillery fragments were found, this could be because Palestinian armed groups made an IED using an old artillery shell. While Palestinian armed groups are known to make and use IEDs, the Palestinian EOD team said they had never seen one made out of such a shell.[264] The IDF did not indicate that it knew of any precedent for this sort of Palestinian IED, on the beach or anywhere. In addition, it would be unusual to have an isolated IED buried in the sand given the extremely unlikely prospect of an Israeli sea invasion.

Timing

The timing of the explosion also supports the conclusion that the blast was caused directly by Israeli artillery shelling, either from that day or from an unexploded shell fired earlier and set off by the impact of the shelling that day. It is also consistent with the theory that Israeli artillery shelling set off a Palestinian IED, but as mentioned above, there is no plausible reason for a Palestinian armed group to place such a weapon on the beach. Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, head of the IDF's investigative team, reported that the IDF fired six artillery shells plus two naval shells at a beach in northern Gaza between 4:31 and 4:50 p.m.[265] According to hospital log books, the first patient arrived at Kamal `Udwan Hospital at 5:05 p.m. Given that it takes about twenty minutes to drive from the hospital to the beach and back, the blast likely occurred within the timeframe of the Israeli shelling.

Digital data supports this chronology. The hospital usually runs hematology tests shortly after a patient arrives. A computerized printout of a blood test for one of the Azanin girls reports that her test took place at 16:12 (or 4:12 p.m.).[266] Surprised by the fact that this preceded any reported shelling of the beach, Human Rights Watch re-visited the hospital and discovered that the staff had not adjusted that machine to reflect daylight savings time. Thus there is written and digital evidence that the Azanin girl had arrived at the hospital between 5:05 and 5:12 p.m. The times of admittance and the blood test indicate that the fatal blast occurred during the time of the Israeli shelling that day.

IDF Explanations

The IDF's view of the incident differs significantly from Human Rights Watch's findings. On the day of the incident, June 9, the IDF expressed regret, called a halt to all artillery fire, and initiated an investigation.[267] Two days later, on June 11, the IDF announced that it had ruled out the possibility that the fatal strike had been caused by IDF air or naval fire.[268] Then, on June 14, five days after the incident, Minister of Defense Amir Peretz said, "We have gotten our hands on enough evidence to prove that as we suspected, the attempt to label this incident as an Israeli incident was simply false. The facts that have accumulated confirm that the incident was not caused by the actions of Israeli forces."[269]

Major General Kalifi, the investigative team leader, told Human Rights Watch that based on ballistic analysis, surveillance videos, and shrapnel, he concluded that an Israeli shell launched that afternoon could not have caused the explosion. He said, "Without any doubt and absolutely no question it could not have been the result of artillery fired on that day. Information until now negates the result of artillery fire."[270] Kalifi made clear that this conclusion was based exclusively on information assembled by the IDF and excluded all evidence from other sources, including Human Rights Watch.[271] He argued first that another type of weapon killed the civilians on the beach. When presented with Human Rights Watch's evidence during an interview, however, he modified his hypothesis and conceded that the cause of the blast may have been a 155mm shell, but then argued that Palestinians may have placed it there as an IED or that it was a dud Israeli shell that was set off by the IDF barrage that afternoon.

Kalifi said that the IDF fired more than 80 shells in the general vicinity but outside the specific beach area on the morning of June 9. It fired an additional six 155mm shells and two 76mm naval shells at what he characterized as a known rocket launch site at the beach between 4:31 and 4:50 p.m. "At a distance of 300 meters from the family was a launching ground commonly used for launching Qassams," he said. "Those areas are targeted while Qassams are being fired from them as well as in a situation [in which] we receive advance information they will be used." International humanitarian experts who monitor security developments in Gaza told Human Rights Watch that there were two sites in the beach area that Palestinian armed groups have used to fire rockets, one about 500 meters and the other about one kilometer from where the Ghalyas were killed.[272] While there is no specific rule saying how close armed forces can place military objects to civilian areas, the launching of rockets 300 meters from a popular Palestinian beach, if true, suggests that the armed groups may not have taken all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population. This would also be the case if the launch site were 500 meters from an area frequented by civilians.

The IDF did not clarify if the shells it fired toward the beach that day targeted specific launchers as opposed to areas from which it might have believed a rocket launcher would be deployed. The Ground Operations Command's Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant said, "We fired towards open areas and took the necessary distance precautions. We fired towards the ruins of Dugit and westward of them-an area which is routinely used for rocket launching. The Palestinian population was warned to keep clear of this area." He continued, "The IDF today attacked two terror cells-one immediately after a rocket launching, the second as it was on its way for such a launching. The second was a Hamas terror cell which in the past days has launched a number of Qassam rocket that hit Sderot."[273]

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz said on June 10, the day after the incident, "I remind everyone that the artillery was in response in the launching of Qassam rockets and also the fact that Hamas claimed responsibility for all the rockets fired at Sderot since yesterday till this afternoon. The involvement is not only limited to the lower ranks but also higher ranks."[274]

Major General Kalifi said the IDF fired a shell at an area 600 meters away from the fatal blast to "calibrate" the artillery. Because IDF radar did not detect this first shell, the same artillery piece fired another shell of the same type towards the same target. According to Khalfi, another two shells were then fired with the "same gun and data." These second, third, and fourth shells landed within 60 meters of each other, he said. The same M109 artillery piece fired the fifth and sixth shells at a different target. Kalifi said these last two shells landed 200 meters away from the fatal blast. This meant, he said, that the chance that their shrapnel could have injured the civilians was "one in a thousand or in ten thousand." As noted earlier, the lethal radius of a 155mm shell is between 50 and 150 meters and the injury radius between 100 and 300 meters. That still leaves the first 155mm artillery shell, the one that Kalifi said the radar failed to detect. According to the IDF's calculations, he said, the statistical probability that this first shell was the fatal one was "one in a billion." He did not explain to Human Rights Watch the IDF's methodology for reaching this conclusion. His explanation also does not account for witness testimony that the first shell was not the fatal one.

Several IDF surveillance videos were the second main source the IDF presented to support its version of the incident. The IDF publicized three videos of the beach, all of which Human Rights Watch viewed. The first video, which Major General Kalifi said was filmed from a gunship from 4:54 to 4:57 p.m., showed "no excitement in behavior...no signs of panic." Kalifi said the evident calm showed that the Israeli shells fired between 4:31 and 4:50 had not caused the incident. The second video, from a different surveillance camera, he said, showed a convoy of vehicles arriving at 5:15 p.m. Kalifi said these were ambulances, suggesting that the explosion occurred sometime after the last Israeli shell exploded-according to him, at 4:50 p.m. The third video, from a third camera, shows a lot of activity at the beach at 5:30 p.m., which Kalifi attributed to the chaos of the explosion. If this were the case, it would indicate that the explosion had taken place well after the last Israeli shell of that afternoon had landed.

All of the video evidence is fuzzy and difficult to interpret, but other hypotheses are possible. For example, the beach could have been empty at the time of the first clip because people had fled to the parking lot; the convoy of vehicles in the second video could have been journalists and Palestinian police, who raced to the scene after the incident; and the chaos of the third video could have been the journalists who flocked to the scene after the explosion. The IDF also did not release the video of the whole time period, including the alleged time of the blast.

Finally, Major General Kalifi said that shrapnel about one centimeter long, removed from the body of a victim who had been transferred to an Israeli hospital, was not from a 155mm artillery shell. "What we can say is it wasn't from a shell. It was not from anything produced in a factory for armaments, but it was from a piece of a munition," Kalifi said, suggesting it could have come from a homemade weapon. "From analysis of the type of alloy and the remains of an explosive, we can say for sure it was not from a 155mm [shell]." Other things besides shell fragments can penetrate a human body as a result of an explosion. He was not willing to include in his investigation the fragments found in victims by Palestinian doctors and turned over to the Palestinian president's office: "It is no problem to take a piece of 155mm shrapnel and to dip it into the blood of one of the injured and present it as if from the body. I'm not willing to accept it, based on experience. Major General Kalifi also said that Palestinians "have no problem lying."

Human Rights Watch believes an independent investigation enjoying the cooperation of the IDF and Palestinian authorities, and with unimpeded access to relevant information and evidence they possess, would be the best way to clarify what happened. Palestinian officials expressed their willingness to cooperate: a June 15, 2006, letter from the office of President Abbas says the Palestinian Authority has "no objections to a neutral international investigative committee to investigate" the incident.[275] "We welcome anyone to make an investigation," said PA spokesman Ghazi Hamad.[276]

The Israeli government has not supported an investigation. While Minister of Defense Amir Peretz left the door open, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz told reporters, with respect to allowing an independent inquiry, "What we are doing is very, very, very professional. We don't need the assistance of anyone."[277]

The availability of significant evidence that the IDF has not examined or taken into account casts serious doubt on its conclusions and underscores the need for an independent investigation of the incident.

[237] The body of an eighth person, Muhammad Yusif Junaid, subsequently washed up near the beach, and initial reports suggested that Junaid was also killed by the same blast. According to the Palestine Monitoring Group, a body affiliated with the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PA, Junaid had been frightened by Israeli naval attacks and threw himself into the sea, where he drowned. See Palestine Monitoring Group, Daily Situation Report, 11 June 200612 June 2006, p. 10.

[238] See, for example, Donald Macintyre, "Fresh Doubts Cast on Gaza Report," Independent, June 18, 2006; Stephen Farrell, "Israel Admits Shell Report Flaws," Times (London), June 17, 2006.

[239] "Israel: Investigate Gaza Beach Killings," Human Rights Watch news release, https://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/13/isrlpa13544.htm, June 13, 2006.

[240] Human Rights Watch interview with Hamdia Ghalya, `Ali `Isa Ghalya's second wife, GazaCity, June 11, 2006.

[241] Human Rights Watch interview with Ayham Ghalya, 17, Beit Lahiya, June 12, 2006.

[242] Human Rights Watch interview with Huda Ghalya, 11, Beit Lahiya, June 12, 2006.

[243] Human Rights Watch interview with Ayham Ghalya, 17, Beit Lahiya, June 12, 2006.

[244] The 12-year-old son of Ramadan Ghalya (`Ali `Isa Ghalya's brother) lost both his legs when the IDF shelled a family strawberry field on January 4, 2005, according to Ramadan Ghalya. See the appeal for financial assistance on behalf of the family at http://ghaliafamily.brinkster.net/ (accessed on October 25, 2006).

[245] Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Jum`a al-Saqqa, director of Public Affairs, Shifa Hospital, Gaza City, June 11, 2006.

[246] Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Nabil al-Shawa, ShifaHospital, GazaCity, June 11, 2006.

[247] Human Rights Watch interview with Hani Radwan Azanin, 31, taxi driver, Beit Hanoun, June 12, 2006.

[248] Human Rights Watch interview with Sayid Abu Rabia, 46, construction worker, Beit Lahiya, June 15, 2006.

[249] Ibid.

[250] Human Rights Watch interview with Nada Abu Rabia, Beit Lahiya, June 15, 2006.

[251] Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Sawarka, Gaza beach, June 10, 2006.

[252] Ibid.

[253] Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, deputy commander of Ground Forces Headquarters and head of the investigative committee for the beach incident, IDF, Tel Aviv, June 19, 2006.

Other IDF sources said the time were 4:30 and 4:51 p.m., but the discrepancy does not change the analysis. See, for example, "Major General Gallant: 'I Will Not Forfeit the Security of Civilians,'" IDF press release, June 12, 2006, http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=53142&Pos=1&last=0&bScope=False (accessed July 31, 2006).

[254] Human Rights Watch interview with Sayid Abu Rabia, 46, construction worker, Beit Lahiya, June 15, 2006.

[255] Human Rights Watch interview with Isma`il Ghanim, 20, worker, Beit Lahiya, June 15, 2006.

[256] Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, deputy commander of Ground Forces Headquarters and head of the investigative committee for the beach incident, IDF, Tel Aviv, June 19, 2006.

[257] Human Rights Watch interview with Hani Radwan Azanin, 31, taxi driver, Beit Hanoun, June 12, 2006.

[258] Human Rights Watch interview with Sayid Abu Rabia, 46, construction worker, Beit Lahiya, June 15, 2006.

[259] Human Rights Watch interview with Gen. Salah Abu `Azum, commander, Palestinian Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, GazaCity, June 13, 2006.

[260] Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Nabil al-Shawa, ShifaHospital, GazaCity, June 11, 2006.

[261] Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Mousba Hodar, ShifaHospital, GazaCity, June 11, 2006.

[262] "[F]or the idealised case of an airburst shell falling perpendicular to the ground, it can be visualised as a wide-angled cone with the shell's final position at the apex of the cone." Lt. Col. P.R. Courtney-Green, Ammunition for the Land Battle (London: Brassey's Limited, 1991), p. 21.

[263] Human Rights Watch interview with Gen. Salah Abu `Azum, commander, Palestinian Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, GazaCity, June 14, 2006.

[264] Ibid.

[265] Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, deputy commander of Ground Forces Headquarters and head of the investigative committee for the beach incident, IDF, Tel Aviv, June 19, 2006. Other IDF sources said the times were 4:30 and 4:51 p.m., but this discrepancy does not change the analysis. See, for example, "Major General Gallant: 'I Will Not Forfeit the Security of Civilians,'" IDF press release, June 12, 2006, http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=53142&Pos=1&last=0&bScope=False (accessed July 31, 2006).

[266] Ministry of Health, Laboratory of Shahid Kamal `Udwan Hospital, Hematology Department, CD1700 Specimen Data Report, analyzed June 9, 2006, 16:12, obtained by Human Rights Watch from the hospital on June 15, 2006.

[267] "In Regards to the Incident on the GazaBeach," IDF press release, June 9, 2006, https://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=53106&Pos=39&last=0&bScople=False (accessed July 31, 2006).

[268] "Chief of General Staff: 'We Are Making Every Effort Not to Harm the Innocent," IDF press release, June 11, 2006, http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=53128&Pos=1&last=0&bScope=False (accessed August 1, 2006).

[269] "Minister of Defense: Facts Confirm Incident Not Caused by Israeli Actions," IDF press release, June 14, 2006, http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=53169&Pos=1&last=0&bScope=False (accessed July 31, 2006).

[270] Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, deputy commander of Ground Forces Headquarters and head of the investigative committee for the beach incident, IDF, Tel Aviv, June 19, 2006. Unless otherwise indicated, all information in this section comes from this interview.

[271] The IDF spokesperson's office informed Human Rights Watch in an email sent on December 2, 2006 that Maj. Gen. Kalifi's investigation was not yet formally completed because its conclusions had yet to be presented to all relevant members of the General Staff.

[272] Human Rights Watch interviews (names withheld), Gaza Strip, June 11 2006, and subsequent e-mail exchanges.

[273] "Inquiry Committee Established into Gaza Incident," IDF press release, June 11, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/Inquiry+committee+established+into+Gaza+incident+11-Jun-2006.htm (accessed February 23, 2007).

[274] Ibid.

[275] Letter to Kahlil Abu Shamala, director, Institute of Conscience for Human Rights, from Dr. Rafiq al-Husaini, Office of the President, National Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Liberation Organization, June 15, 2006.

[276] Human Rights Watch interview with Ghazi Hamad, PA spokesman, GazaCity, June 12, 2006.

[277] Steven Erlanger and Ian Fisher, "Israel Missiles Kill 10 in Gaza," New York Times, June 14, 2006.