Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke Thursday of the Gaza offensive incident which resulted in the killing of Gaza physician Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish's three daughters, and said it was "a regrettable and painful event, but that can happen when war takes place in densely populated areas.
"The responsibility is Hamas', under international law as well," he said at a Labor faction meeting in Tel Aviv.
Referring to the findings of an IDF investigation into the incident, which were presented to al-Aish on Wednesday, the defense minister said "no other army in the world investigates such regrettable accidents. We cannot bring anyone back to life, but we know we have the most moral army in the world.
"Millions of flyers were dropped and hundreds of phone calls were placed to warn Gazans (ahead of Israeli strikes) and prevent civilian casualties," he said.
The army's investigation, approved by Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, revealed that an IDF tank fired two shells at al-Aish house after fire was opened at troops from a nearby area. The probe also showed that troops spotted figures at the top floors of the building helping to direct Palestinian fire at Golani forces.
According to Barak, the results of Operation Cast Lead "may expedite the decision-making process to bring (kidnapped IDF soldier) Gilad Shalit home. Returning him will require difficult and painful decisions."
Shalit was captured by Palestinian terrorists during a cross-border raid on an IDF base near Gaza on June 25, 2006.
As for the upcoming elections, Barak said "the attitude towards the Labor party and towards me in particular has changed over the past few months. Ours is a security agenda. Earlier this morning a senior Islamic Jihad commander was killed by IDF forces in the West Bank. All targeted killings can prevent terror attacks."