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From the field

Additional findings in B'Tselem's investigation of deaths of members of the al-'Atar family by an air force missile attack

As a result of its continuing investigation of the air force's bombing of a cart carrying Palestinian civilians in Beit Lahiya on 24 July, the organization has learned that children who were riding in the cart had collected Qassam launchers. In the incident, Khairiyah al-'Atar and her grandson Nadi were killed, and the other two persons in the cart were injured.

B'Tselem's investigation has revealed that Khiriyah, 62, Nadi, 11, Nadi's brother Shadi, 14, and her cousin Ahmad, were in a donkey-drawn cart on their farmland in the northern Gaza Strip. As they were riding, Shadi and Nadi found abandoned Qassam rocket launchers and put them onto the cart with the intention of selling them.

In its 3 August press release, B'Tselem published its initial findings on four incidents that took place in the Gaza Strip in July (among them the one involving the al-'Atar family), in which the Israeli military killed fifteen Palestinian civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities. The press release stated that the military had not provided any information about these incidents, so it was impossible to determine why the military fired at those civilians. However, the release stated, there is reason to believe that the firing in the four cases was done in breach of international humanitarian law because the persons killed were not involved in the hostilities and were not near armed Palestinians or hidden weapons. On this basis, B'Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate General asking that he order an investigation into the incidents. The new information in the al-'Atar family case indicates that the reason the Air Force fired the missile in that instance apparently was in response to the collection of Qassam launchers.

B'Tselem has sent the new information to the Judge Advocate General to assist him in his investigation of the case.