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A Palestinian youth fights Israeli forces with stones at the Qalandia checkpoint, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, yesterday.
JERUSALEM: The Israeli military yesterday said it could not yet provide an explanation about an air strike on Gaza that killed 11 Palestinian civilians, including nine members of a single family.
The attack brought a three-storey home crashing down on the Al Dalu family inside and killed two of their neighbours. It was the highest number of deaths in a single incident since an Israeli offensive began on Wednesday with the declared aim of ending years of sporadic cross-border rocket fire.
A day after Sunday’s strike, whose victims spanned four generations, it was still not clear from Israeli comments why the building had been hit.
A military spokeswoman said the circumstances were still under investigation and she could not provide any details at this stage. The Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Maariv said the army had fired at the wrong house, while Israel’s top-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported the Al Dalu home was indeed the target and that it housed a Hamas militant.
Around the time of the attack, the military said it had hit the commander of Hamas’s rocket-launching operations. They named him as Yihia Abayah.
Soon after, reports began coming in that a family was killed in the strike.
Several hours later, the Israeli army’s chief spokesman, Yoav Mordechai, said on television the military tried to attack Abayah.
“Although I don’t know the outcome, there were civilians harmed by this”.But around the Al Dalu’s home, people say they know nothing of Yihia Abayah. Hatem Al Dalu, a relative of the family, said: “I have never heard such a name (Yihia Abayah). This is nonsense.”
Some Israeli media speculated the target of the attack was a different militant, a Hamas-affiliated engineer thought to be in the house.
Sources in Gaza reject that theory flat out. People who know the family said its father is a grocery-shop owner and that he was not at home when the dwelling was hit. On Monday, rescue workers continued to search for another son and daughter who could be buried in the rubble.
Brigadier-General Asaf Agmon, a retired senior commander in the Israeli air force, said that tragic mistakes can happen if intelligence is wrong or if aircraft misfire.