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From the field

The investigating officer’s findings do not clear Israel of responsibility for the deaths of the Abu Me'tiq family

Update: On 7 December 2008 the Office of the Military Advocate for Operational Matters informed B’Tselem that the incident would not be investigated by the Military Police.

Following the publication of the findings of the investigating officer into the death of five members of the Abu Me'tiq family in Beit Hanun on 28 April, B'Tselem repeated its call to the Israeli army's Judge Advocate General to open a Military Police investigation of the case. In its letter, B'Tselem writes that the video footage filmed by a military UAV, depicting part of the event, strengthens the suspicion that the lethal measures used by the army did not adhere to the international humanitarian law principle of proportionality.

B'Tselem repeated its position that whoever fired the original missile, bears responsibility for the explosion that led to the deaths of the family members. The missile was fired at a militant who was on the doorstep of a densely populated residential compound, knowing he was carrying ammunition.

In its letter, B'Tselem adds that it is aware of the reality in the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian militants operate in the midst of a civilian population, and direct attacks at Israeli civilians, in violation of the laws of war. However, this does not justify the Israeli security forces shirking their obligation to distinguish between civilians and those taking part in the hostilities, and to do all they can to avoid harming civilians disproportionately.