Faulty intelligence, wanton recklessness, or a combination of the two

1 February 2009: A 13-year-old girl who was asleep in her bed; three primary school-age boys who were carrying sugar canes; two young women on their way to a shelter in search of safety; a 13-year-old boy on his bicycle; eight secondary school students who were waiting for the school bus to take them home; an entire family sitting outside their home – these are among the many victims of missiles fired from Israeli UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), commonly known as drones.

Here in Gaza people call the drones “zannana”, an onomatopoeic description reflecting the buzzing sound that they emit as they fly overhead. Their main function is surveillance, but, in recent years, Israeli forces have also used them to fire missiles, often to assassinate “wanted” Palestinians.

An Israeli journalist told us that the military censor does not permit Israeli media to publish any reference to strikes by drones. These missiles seem to be very precise, with a relatively small but concentrated radius. Yet, they have killed or injured hundreds of civilians, including many children, though the reason for this – whether due to faulty intelligence, wanton recklessness, or a combination of the two – is unclear.

In many of the cases we investigated, we found a consistent pattern: each missile is packed with tiny metal cubes that increase its lethal effect. These are blasted with extreme force, penetrating through metal doors and steel pylons and embedding deep into concrete walls.

Today, we visited the place where a missile fired from a drone killed two women and three children from the same family on the morning of 15 January. It was in a Bedouin village on the outskirts of Beit Lahiya, in north Gaza. Those killed were three children, their mother and their grandmother.

The family’s home had been destroyed some 10 days earlier by the blast from a powerful air strike that apparently targeted a nearby tunnel. After this, the family had gone to stay with relatives across the road. The two women and three children were killed by the missile when they returned to the remains of their home to retrieve some of their possessions.

Earlier, we investigated several other cases in the Khan Yunis area, in the south of the Gaza Strip. There, the latest drone attack had occurred on 29 January, despite the 11-day-old ceasefire, in the centre of Khan Yunis.

The target, it seems, were two suspected Palestinian militants who were riding a motorcycle. They were hit and injured, but so too were 16 civilians, almost all of them children, as might have been predicted considering the location and time of the missile strike.

It was launched at a point opposite the hospital, only a few metres distant from the entrance to a UN primary school and directly in front of a row of food stalls. The attack was launched at 11.30am, just as children were leaving school at the end of the morning lessons.

On 2 January, three boys from the al-Astal family – eight-year-old Abderrabbo, his brother Mohammed, aged 11, and Abd-al-Sattar al-Astal, also just 11 – were killed by a missile fired from a drone while collecting sugar cane in al-Qarara, north-east of Khan Yunis. At the scene, we again found metal posts peppered with the signature square holes from the shrapnel blasted from the drone missile.

Another characteristic of these missiles is a small hole that penetrates deep into the ground, leaving few remains. We asked to borrow a shovel from local farmers in order to dig down and try to recover any remains from the missile. At this, some village youths stepped up enthusiastically and began to dig into the sandy ground.

Some six feet down, they recovered small parts of the circuit board and other shards of the missile. We urged the children’s family to hold on to these and keep them safe, as possible evidence to be considered in any future investigation.

Posted in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories | 8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Predator Attacks Crimes Against Humanity, Whether in Pakistan or Gaza « Therearenosunglasses’s Weblog

  2. Nancy Withington says:

    Genocide of the Palestinians is the basic tenet of Zionism. Google “Plan Dalat”; read Ilan Pappe’s: THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE.

  3. Just USA says:

    If Israel wanted to ethnically cleanse Gaza of Palestinians , it would be over in a day and they wouldn’t have taken the pains to alert civilians of military action. In war , what other nation alerts civilians of pending military action. The only genocide that is being incited is by Iran and it’s lackies and not a peep from people like you

  4. Ian Fountain says:

    I see this report about Israel, but where is the report about the 100s that have been injured and 1000s being treated for shock and live in fear in the soutern villages of Israel.
    Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip. Hamas won elections and immediately fired rockets without caring where they land.
    Why is Amnesty international not giving both sides of the stories.
    Why is Amnesty international making itself a target for people saying they are biased, when both sides of the truth are not in every story they print.

    I have been in Israel and the occupied territories and I have seen a totally different picture to waht you paint and it is not as simple as you make it out to be.

    Please learn to check and verify your stories first.
    Remember in world war two how England carpet bombed German cities, they did this because of the Buzz bombs Hitler sent to England. Israel did not go to that level but did respond to protect its citizens

    Where is the Amnesty report on that?

  5. To Nancy Withington:
    Unless you live in Israel, you really do not have a good handle on the situation.
    Firstly, Israel has always been a home to Jewish people, going back almost 6,000 years, and there were no Palestinians back that far. Actually, their time there is measured innumbers of decades, and not in 1,000′s of years.
    Under the Balfour Declartion of 1947, Israel was to become a state, and the British mandate would be over. The Jewish people offered to share with the Arabs who were living there. The ones that didn’t want to left and became refugees, the ones that wanted to share stayded and are Israeli Citizens, and are represented in Parliament. The only fully democratic government in the Middle Ease.
    Israel became a state in May of 1948, and since then has had to defend itself from those that would destroy her.
    You probably should read all the accounts of the Israeli/Palestinian situation before making unqualified statements in a public forum like this one.
    After you have read all that you can from the Israeli and Palestinian points of view, we can continue this dialogue if you wish. My email address is jeffreyjoseph@realtor.com
    Oh, I forgot to ask you. Have you read anything about the thousands of rockets that have been fired unprovoked into Israel, when the Israelis thought that they were at peace? Have you read about the 2 Israeli soldiers that were kidnapped a few years ago.
    One is dead, and the other, Gilad Shalit, is still a captive. Think about who does the provoking over there. You just do not have enough valid information, for if you did, you would not have made the statement here that you did.
    Very sincerely,
    Jeffrey Joseph.

  6. Jayson Rex says:

    The more the anti-Jews, ex anti-Semites, currently anti-Israelis, yell the less the World believes them or cares about their agenda. Frankly, nobody trusts anything Arabs say – an inconvenient truth but an undeniable one non-the-less. Palestinians are playing the victimhood game to the limit, as they always did; everybody knows that, no one really believes it but everybody keeps mum – afraid of Islamic extremists.

    Muslims, after all, must blindly obey the Koran that states unequivocally that they must lie to the unbelievers. In tune with such a strange order, the old “blood libel” is being replaced by “ethnic cleansing”, the latest catch-word substituting “genocide”, “mass murder”, “Nazis”, etc. and etc.
    As it happens, no one is impressed by these meaningless adjectives.

    After the last series of “demonstrations”, courtesy of Hamas, the chances that a Palestinian state dominated by terrorists will one day be created in parts of Cis-Jordan are next to nil. Or less.

  7. rachamim ben ami says:

    In terms of the Report, AI needs a reality check. As an American general once said, “War is hell.” It is not pretty and neat. People naturally take umbrage at what they witness thanks to the mircale of modern technology but war has always been bloody.

    “Save the circuit board for any future investigation….”: That is utterly ridiculous. AI claims to have weapons experts, etc and yet makes statements like this? At least you should have IHL/ROW experts guiding you because otherwise you are entirely wasting the seemingly great effort your organisation is taking. Why would Israel be doing this if it wanted to get rid of Arabs in Gaza, let alone kill all of them?

    People that make such comments have precious little grasp of even the most basic of facts in this dynamic.

    As for Reader#1′s tip to read Pappe, perhaps she might read how he was bounced out of academia do to shoddy methodlogy. anyone can claim anything but without proof it is just nonsense.

    “Plan Daled” (not “Dalet, using the commonly accepted transliteration into English) was not even a plan to “Ethnically CLeanse” let alone commit genocide. You seem to not even understand the word “genocide.” It is defined as “killing an entire racial or ethnic demographic.” It is not defined as pushing people from their homes which is the usual misunderstanding made over “Paln Dalet.”

    You might also wish to acquint yourself both with actual facts on the ground for that time period (meaning actions that happened as opposed to “planned to happen” in addition to the actual legacy (books, letters and speecehs in addition to 3rd party perspectives by his contemporaries both in and out of govt., “his” being Ben Gurion of course.

    How does Israel now have an Arab minority constituting roughly 20% of its entire population? I would imaginwe if Israel even aimed for EThnic CLeansi9ng that this would not be and yet…

    As for readers’ claim(s) of genocidal aims, what nonsense! Aside from Israel having well over a million of that same ethnicity as full citizens, it has offered chance to return (to Gaza and the so called “WB”) 4 times! I) Armistice 49, II) Lausanne, III) Kin Reunification I, and IV) Kin Reunification II.

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