Photo: AFP
Targeted vehicle carried Qassam terror cell
Photo: AFP
Photo: AP
Hundreds gather in area
Photo: AP
Photo: AFP
Abbas condemns
Photo: AFP

Air Force: We saw no civilians

Initial investigation conducted by IAF finds that no civilians were spotted in vicinity of vehicle carrying terror cell in Gaza; 'we still don’t know whether civilians were hurt as result of explosion in car or for other reasons,' senior officer explains

The Israel Air Force has begun investigating the failed assassination Tuesday in which two Palestinian children and a teenager were killed.


A senior officer told Ynet that "an initial investigation we held found that, during the firing of the missile no civilians were spotted around the vehicle or in its vicinity, and when missiles were on their way to the target, no gathering was spotted."


The officer made it clear that the targeted cell was on its way to carry out an attack but refused to give further details.


He said the cell carried out Qassam rocket attacks at Israel Tuesday morning: "It's clear to everyone that if we wouldn't hit them they would come back and fire (rockets at Israel) tonight as well."


He explained that the area chosen to strike the vehicle was not crowded. During that time there was almost no traffic on the road except one vehicle that passed very far from the vehicle carrying the terrorists. Two missiles were fired at the same time and struck the car accurately.


"We still don't know if the civilians were injured as a result of the explosion that took place in the car or due to other reasons," said the officer.


He added that civilians may not have been detected in the vicinity because the area may have been covered or because it was difficult to identify people.


The officer said that the vehicle was traveling during the strike.


"Unlike the incident last week in which two rounds were fired and only five seconds before they struck the vehicle we identified civilians but could not return the missiles, in this incident there was a direct hit to the vehicle and no civilians at all were identified. We will clarify this," he said.


Abbas: New Israeli crime against Palestinians


The officer said that Air Force Commander Major General Eliezer Shkedy recently ordered the Air Force's policy to be clarified in terms of civilians.


"Even before regulations were made clear, it was unequivocally clear to us that we are seeking to hit only terrorists and doing everything to minimize the risk that civilians would be hit. It's clear that feelings are not good when civilians are hit, but we it should be remembered that we understand the value of the mission. Our role is to strike terrorists operating out of these areas so that they don't operate again," the officer said.


Despite the outcome of the incident, the Air Force is determined to continue its operations. Since the Israel Defense Forces' pullout from Gaza, hundreds of operations have been carried out in Gaza's skies to hit terrorists.


The Palestinian Authority condemned the IDF strike in Gaza. A statement issued by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office said that the president of the Palestinian Authority condemns "the new Israeli crime against the Palestinian people."


"This crime comes at a time in which we are exerting great efforts in a bid to maintain calm and prevent a further deterioration in the situation," the statement read.


The PA demanded that the international community take responsibility for stopping the increasing Israeli aggressiveness against the Palestinians.


Ali Waked contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 06.20.06, 23:22
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