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June 19, 2006

HRW's Expert Backtracks on Gaza Explosion

Many of the critics who have expressed doubts about Israel's investigation into the Gaza beach explosion have pointed to a separate investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the group's researcher Marc Garlasco. According to HRW, that investigation "strongly suggests Israeli artillery fire was to blame." The organization added that Israeli internal investigations "have generally fallen short of international standards for thorough and impartial investigations."

Although Israel found that the beach explosion well occurred after their shells were fired, Garalasco has repeatedly attributed the explosion to Israeli shells fired at the time of the explosion.

According to an HRW press release: "'The likelihood that the Ghalya family was killed by an explosive other than one of the shells fired by the IDF is remote,' said Marc Garlasco."

The New York Times reported that, according to Garlasco, "the crater size, the shrapnel and the location of injuries on the bodies all pointed to ''a shell dropping from the sky, not explosives under the sand.'" Similar assertions by Garlasco were quoted in a number of other newspapers. (These include reports in the highly partisan British Guardian and Independent newspapers, respectively entitled "Guardian investigation casts doubt on Israeli claim that army was not to blame" and "Revealed: the shrapnel evidence that points to Israel's guilt.")

But now, according to the Jerusalem Post, Garlasco is backtracking on his assertion that the explosion was caused by a falling shell, and contradicting HRW's assertions that Israeli investigations are not professional.

The Post reports:

Human Rights Watch conceded Monday night for the first time since the incident that it could not contradict the IDF's exonerating findings. ...

Following the three-hour meeting, described by both sides as cordial and pleasant, Garlasco praised the IDF's professional investigation into the blast, which he said was most likely caused by unexploded Israeli ordnance left laying on the beach, a possibility also raised by [IDF Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi, who headed Israel's inquiry into the blast,] and his team. ...

Lucy Mair - head of the HRW's Jerusalem office - said Klifi's team had conducted a thorough and professional investigation of the incident and made "a good assessment" when ruling out the possibility that an errant IDF shell had killed the seven Palestinians on the Gaza beach.

Read the article here.

Posted by GI at June 19, 2006 06:00 PM

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