Beach deaths 'not Israel's fault'
11 killed in new Israeli air strikes on Gaza
Tuesday, June 13, 2006; Posted: 10:14 a.m. EDT (14:14 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An explosion on a Gaza beach that killed seven people last week was caused by explosives planted there by Palestinian militants, not artillery fire from an Israeli navy gunboat, Israeli military sources said.
The Israeli investigation concluded that the possibility any of the six artillery shells fired from the gunboat last Friday could have landed on the beach was "almost nil," the sources said.
The deaths of seven people -- all members of a Palestinian family having a beach picnic -- prompted the military wing of Hamas to resume rocket strikes against Israel after a hiatus of more than a year.
The Israel Defense Forces report, to be presented to the Israeli defense minister and Israeli chief of staff Tuesday, will cite several factors that led to the conclusion that the explosion was caused by a mine planted on the beach by Palestinian militants, the sources said.
An Israeli commando unit used the beach to enter Gaza for a mission in recent weeks, prompting the militants to place the mines, the sources said.
Intelligence information gathered by Israeli investigators showed that Hamas quickly removed the remaining mines from the beach after the blast, the sources said.
Investigators were able to locate where five of the six shells fired from the gunboat Friday landed and none of them were near the beach, the sources said. The sixth shell -- the first to be fired -- could not have killed the family because it was fired further north and too early, the sources said.
Adding to the conclusion that it was not an Israeli shell that killed the family was an examination of photographs of the crater on the beach. The sources said experts found it was the type of crater caused by a planted explosive, not by an artillery shell landing from above.
Finally, shrapnel removed from three of the injured by doctors at Israeli hospitals was not the from an artillery shell, the sources said.
At least 11 Palestinians, including two children, were killed Tuesday when an Israeli military aircraft fired missiles at a car in northern Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
Israel Defense Forces said the car carried "Islamic Jihad terrorists" and was en route to a site where rockets have been fired into Israeli territory.
Five Qassam rockets landed on the Israeli side of the Gaza border Monday morning, causing no injuries or significant damage, the Israel Defense Forces said.
The Monday launches followed a series of at least 70 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since Friday, wounding four Israeli civilians, the IDF said.