Important update from @LTCPeterLerner on Military Advocate General report on #Gaza beach incident

One of the most sensational Guardian reports during the summer war involved a July 16th IDF attack on a Gaza beach which killed four Palestinian children.  Yesterday, Israel’s military advocate general’s office issued its report on the tragedy. Here’s the Facebook update from Lt. Peter Lerner, IDF military spokesman, on the report. 

Today the Military Advocate General announced his decision on one of the most tragic cases of last year’s conflict with Gaza. I believe it is one of the most covered incidents that was reported on by the media, it was the incident of an air force strike on Gaza beach that resulted in the tragic death of four boys, Ahed Atef Bakr, Zakariya Ahed Bakr, Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr.

The military police carried out an extensive criminal investigation. During the investigation testimonies were collected from a large number of IDF soldiers and officers who were involved in the planning and execution of the attack. Additionally, an extensive number of documents relating to the attack were reviewed, along with video footage documenting the attack in real time, as well as media images and video footage which documented parts of the incident. Efforts were made to collect the testimonies of Gaza Strip residents who were, allegedly, witnesses to the incident. In this context, the collection of testimony from three witnesses was coordinated. Regretfully, despite the prior coordination, the witnesses eventually declined to meet the investigators, and instead provided affidavits in regard to the incident.

From the factual findings collected by the investigators, it revealed that the incident took place in an area that had long been known as a compound belonging to Hamas’s Naval Police and Naval Force (including naval commandos), and which was utilized exclusively by militants. The compound in question spans the length of the breakwater of the Gaza City seashore, closed off by a fence and clearly separated from the beach serving the civilian population. It further found in the course of the investigation (including from the affidavits provided by Palestinian witnesses), that the compound was known to the residents of the Gaza Strip as a compound which was used exclusively by Hamas’s Naval Police.

The IDF carried out a number of attacks on the compound in the days prior to the incident. In the course of one such attack, which took place on the day prior to the incident (15 July 2014), a container located inside the compound, which was used to store military supplies, was attacked.

Shortly before the incident, an intelligence assessment was established which indicated that operatives from Hamas’s Naval Forces would gather in the military compound in order to prepare for military activity against the IDF. On 16 July, aerial surveillance identified a number of figures entering the compound at a running pace. These figures entered a shed adjoining the container which had been attacked the day prior. Against the backdrop of the aforementioned intelligence assessment, these were believed to be militants from Hamas’s Naval Forces, who had arrived at the compound in order to prepare to execute the aforementioned military activity against the IDF. It should be stressed that the figures were not identified at any point during the incident, as children.

In light of the above, it was decided to conduct an aerial attack against the figures which had been identified, after all the necessary authorizations for an attack had been obtained, and after a civilian presence in the area had been ruled out. When one of the identified figures entered into the remains of the container which had been attacked on the day prior to the incident, one missile was fired from the air towards the container and the adjoining shed. As a result of this attack, it appeared that one of the figures identified was hit. Following this attack, the rest of the figures began to run in the direction of the compound’s exit. Shortly before their exit from the compound, an additional missile was fired from the air towards them, which hit the figures in question after they had exited the compound.

Tragically, in the wake of the incident it became clear that the outcome of the attack was the death of four children, who had entered the military compound for reasons that remain unclear. It further arose from the investigation that, under the circumstances in question, it would not have been possible for the operational entities involved to have identified these figures, via aerial surveillance, as children.

After reviewing the investigation’s findings, the Military Advocate General found that the attack process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements. The decision to attack was taken by the competent authorities, and the attack was aimed at figures who were understood to be militants from Hamas’s Naval Forces, who had gathered in order to prepare to carry out military activities against the IDF. At the time that the decision was made, the attack was not, according to the assessment of the operational entities, expected to result in any collateral damage to civilians or to civilian property. Moreover, the attack was carried out while undertaking several precautionary measures, which aimed to prevent any harm to civilians. Such measures included, inter alia, the choice of a munition which was not expected to cause any harm to civilians, and the deployment of real time visual surveillance. The Military Advocate General found that the professional discretion exercised by all the commanders involved in the incident had not been unreasonable under the circumstances. However, it became clear after the fact that the identification of the figures as militants from Hamas’s Naval Forces, was in error. Nonetheless, the tragic outcome of the incident does not affect the legality of the attack ex post facto.

Accordingly, the Military Advocate General ordered that the investigation file be closed without any further legal proceedings – criminal or disciplinary – to be taken against those involved in the incident. Nonetheless, inter alia as a result of this incident, the IDF has been working to improve a number of its operational capabilities, including technological capabilities, in order to minimize the risk of the recurrence of tragic incidents of this kind.

38 replies »

  1. I just saw the vicious and malicious headline in the Guardian about this report. Israel exonerates itself over Gaza beach killings of 4 children.

    I did not read the article. I couldn’t bring myself to. Even if the article is balanced the headline is so tendentious that any “passing traffic” reader will immediately understand that Israel cannot be relied upon to investigate its army’s possible errors. The headline implies that Israel casually dismisses any war-crimes charges, not reflecting the serious investigation undertaken by the IDF.

    The Guardian makes me sick.

    • Even if the article is balanced…
      You must be joking Anne. The article has been written by Peter Beaumont.

      • You’re right. I just went back to see who the author was. But even if it wasn’t Beaumont I doubt the Guardian is capable of writing a balanced piece about Israel, certainly about the IDF, and double certainly if Gaza, their favourite saints, is involved.

    • “I did not read the article. I couldn’t bring myself to”

      You might have learned something if you had read it, Anne. The attack was witnessed by a number of international journalists, including one from the Guardian. Their accounts differ in important respects from the MAG account. Moreover, despite the IDF’s extensive interviewing of their own people they don’t seem to have approached the independent journalist witnesses. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know seems to be the operating principle.

      • Moreover, despite the IDF’s extensive interviewing of their own people they don’t seem to have approached the independent journalist witnesses. There is a reason Sencar – these “independent international Journalists” have been caught lying so many times and are employed by the most Jew-hating propaganda rags that their accounts are simply irrelevant.
        This is for you Sencar – a useful answer to your question.
        Shannon High-Bassalik says during Gaza war she was told to cast Israel as the villain and emphasize the Arab point of view

        • Thanks for the link to a story about al-Jazeera, Peter. However I would have thought we might agree that that organisation is untypical of the major news groups represented amongst witnesses to the beach massacre – particularly when it comes to accusations of pro-Arab bias.

          Journalists are trained to observe and record. Any impartial investigator would actively seek out their evidence. That the IDF did not do so speaks volumes.

          • However I would have thought we might agree that that organisation is untypical of the major news groups represented amongst witnesses to the beach massacre – particularly when it comes to accusations of pro-Arab bias.
            No we don’t not agree. AFP, Guardian, BBC have been caught more than one occasion lying about the war.
            Regarding the objectivity of AFPFormer AP Reporter Confirms Matti Friedman Account Maybe AFP is not a major newsgroup?
            Journalists are trained to observe and record. Any impartial investigator would actively seek out their evidence
            The joke of the XXIst century. The Guardian, al-Jazeera, BBC, AFP journalists are told to lie about Israel. Not trained but made them understood. Any impartial investigator must simply ignore them as completely unreliable liars.
            That the IDF did not do so speaks volumes. Correct Sencar. Maybe not volumes, but it tells us that the investigation was serious and din’t waste the time to ask for the accounts of well known liars.

            • Could be that I’m mistaken and there is no need to tell these “journalists” anything. When the Guardian’s Israel correspondents are well known anti-Israel activists like Peter Beaumont, Harriett Sherwood and Chris McGreal, the BBC’s correspondent a documented liar and falsifier of documents (John Donnison) probably they do their Jew-bashing not as a duty – they are volunteers.

          • That is exactly right. This attack is not unique in its cruelty or barbarism – and was extraordinary only because it was quite literally on a piece of land that was in front of the place where dozens of journalists were staying. This is why there were so many eye witness accounts that came forth. The idea that all of these journalists are independently lying in order to fulfill a vendetta against Israel is preposterous on its face.

            Despite all of this, the IDF of course, has cleared itself of any wrongdoing (the irony of a military that is the judge of its own crimes should not be lost on any of us), and there will be no justice for the families of the four deceased children.

            • ..on a piece of land that was in front of the place where dozens of journalists were staying. This is why there were so many eye witness accounts that came forth.
              Mr. Zebala you should read your comrades’ accounts before starting to write complete trash. Nobody, not even your Goebbelsian friends alleged that they witnessed the event personally.
              The idea that all of these journalists are independently lying in order to fulfill a vendetta against Israel is preposterous on its face.
              They don’t lie independently. Most of them are are living in the Jerusalem Colony Hotel, they don’t know a word of the local languages so if one of them gets anything from his/her local stringer – being unable to seek for confirmation all of them copy it happily and return to the margaritas in the bar. And obviously they make happy their readers like yourself.

            • zebalatrash – You honestly believe that the IDF, one of the most moral and sophisticated armies in the world [not my phrase, but words of military experts outside of Israel] would deliberately target and murder four children IN FRONT OF DOZENS OF JOURNALISTS, so that they would not be able to conceal this murder? You must be out of your mind! There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that those journalists were there, or even witnessed anything, let alone reported the truth. Whether you like it or not there is ample evidence that journalists and the media lie and continue to subvert the truth in order to delegitimise Israel [see Matti Friedman, ex-AP journalists’ articles].

              Also see for extensive forensic analyses of this incident before you bleat on about ‘justice’ for the families of those children.

              Finally, you describe this attack as ‘cruel and barbaric’ [which it most certainly is] yet you make no reference to Hamas having murdered children and teenagers in 2014 on the streets and in the tunnels of Gaza. ‘Cruel’ and ‘barbaric’ are adjectives that belong to Hamas, not Israel. Post your inflammatory remarks on the BDS, ISM and other apologists for terror websites where your fiction is more welcome and where it ultimately belongs.

            • Trash is right, Zebala – your name fits you like a glove.
              “The idea that all of these journalists are independently lying in order to fulfill a vendetta against Israel is preposterous on its face” – nonsense. There are many deeply antisemitic newspapers and TV channels around.

            • The dozens of journalists all used Hamas figures for their death totals. And those numbers were drastically different than the numbers used by Israel. Now why is that?

              Answer: Because Hamas loves truth, and Israel is a monster!!111111!!!11

      • “Don’t ask if you don’t want to know seems to be the operating principle.” – certainly is in your case, revolting creature.

      • If you read the various articles submitted by William Booth and see how they mutate over time to accommodate the generally accepted version you will see that reporters are not unbiased observers. Their jobs depend on pleasing their bosses, just like everyone else’s does

      • Well Brian, I read it and I did indeed learn something and I quote: “But journalists who attended the scene in the immediate aftermath of the attack – including a reporter from the Guardian – saw a small and dilapidated fisherman’s hut containing a few tools where the children had been playing hide-and-seek.”

        Have you got that? It states “in the immediate aftermath….” so these journalists, that so conveniently included a Guardian reporter, turned up later to witness the “aftermath”. There is no evidence that they were anywhere near during the action that is reported to have taken place. So far the event is only under “preliminary investigation” by the ICC according to your favourite newspaper.

        • The kids were playing Hide and Seek, huh? Nothing more innocent than that. If only Hamas thought about adding a Candyland board game in the cave, but then Candyland must be one of those Infidel concoctions. Sugar + Freedom = Zionism.

      • @sencar – You obviously no little about this incident or about the IDF. Please see for extensive forensic analysis of this. There is absolutely no doubt that Hamas and the international media were in cahoots to portray this as a deliberate killing by the IDF. In fact, Wictor’s analysis refutes the version of IDF responsibility utterly. The beach was not a simple ‘beach’: it was a known Hamas military outpost and no parents in their right mind would ever have sent their children to play there. Hamas was responsible for the deaths of more than 120 children who were digging terror tunnels to kill Jews [where is your outrage about THAT?]; Wictor offers evidence that demonstrates that Hamas sent those children there and that this was a set-up. Believe what you want to believe about the Guardian, Beaumont, alleged eyewitnesses [none of whom agreed to be interviewed by IDF] and the international media, but we all know that it is Israel that protects and reveres life and not Hamas. It is a tragedy that four little children were martyred [again] by Hamas and that you and the international media prefer to believe lies and Pallywood set-ups because the alternative simply does not fit into your antisemitic agenda.

      • If I edited a newspaper, I might use the title Guardian Endorses Attacks on Jews to Bring About Palestinian Autonomy.

        But then my lot in life to be one of those Zionist who doesn’t running a newspaper.

        Say, Brian, don’t you think it’s weird that loving parents would let their children play in an area of a beach cordoned off by Hamas so as to be used by Hamas, especially on the first day of a war which, as you and I both know because we read newspapers and stuff (!!!) to learn and stuff (!!!), was forewarned by the IDF to the general populace of Gaza?

        Oh that’s right! I wrote too much for you to figure this out. That’s the funny thing about you guys. History begins when you say it does. Justice is made when you say it is. And no one upon nobody loves people more than the people who insist that killing Jews will bring peace to the Middle East.

        Bless your little heart, Bri.

      • sencar,
        The only thing Anne could have found about the article is just how low the Guardian will sink.
        I’m sure all the “journalistic” reports were read, but what else could they bring to light? Were the reporters on hand when commanders made their decisions? Did one of them hear an officer say something like, “there’s some kids over there on the beach, cute and cuddly. Let’s snuff ’em out.”? By the way, the reporters did not see the entire incident, and their own reports conflict with each other. Worthless journalists such as Beaumont cannot be trusted not to, shall we say, color things.

        I want you to know that I think that this is a tragedy. But this is what happens in war, and the party who started it, (thousands of rockets launched into Israeli civilian territory with no military targets, ahem, war crimes of the worst order, ignored by the Guardian amongst others), known in common parlance as “the aggressor” is the party ultimately responsible.

        That being said, what the f___ were these kids doing there in the first place? A known military target. Did Hamas give them permission to be there? Did Hamas tell them to be there? Did Hamas plant them there? There were certainly an abundance of Hamas operatives to guide the movements of reporters making sure they would see “the right things.”

        I know, I know, sencar. An organization like Hamas that convinces kids to where bomb belts, to dig tunnels, to act as human decoys and as human shields would just never ever do anything to endanger children.

    • Adam – It’s not enough simply to ‘clear’ our soldiers of wrong-doing in the deaths of these children because as forensically demonstrates this incident on the beach was a set-up by Hamas and was supported by the international media and the Guardian whose ultimate desire is to destroy Israel. Where is the international outrage about the 120+ murders of the Gazan children at the hands of Hamas who died digging terror tunnels? Once again the IDF is portrayed as a monster born out of a monstrous state. Regrettably the IDF investigation does not go far enough to highlight the truth about what happened that day at a military outpost on a beach, just as it failed to do following the murder of Mohammed Al Durah at the hands of his own people.

  2. Interesting report by a group of generals to the UN – rather like Richard Kemp, this time by a group of former generals, etc.

    However, since the group was sponsored by a pro-Israel group rather than an “independent” group such as, e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood, it will be considered to be biased

    The High-Level International Military Group on the Gaza Conflict in 2014 held a fact-finding mission to Israel between May 18-22. It was sponsored by a pro-Israel group, was reportedly given unprecedented access to senior officials, and investigated allegations of war crimes and disproportionality.

    The group found that “during Operation Protective Edge last summer… Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”

    They wrote that “in some cases Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.”

    The mission, sponsored by the Friend of Israel Initiative, was headed by the former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Klaus Naumann, and included 10 other generals, chiefs of staff, politicians and other officials from Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Colombia, the US and the UK.

    • You don’t want to listen to them! Only “journalists” and Hamas know about standards. ;0)

    • Did you bother with the make up of the group. Neither Spain nor Holland can be remotely considered as being friendly to Israel. The fact is both are hostile countries that support the Arabs. And they too agreed that Israel not only met but exceeded international law

    • akus2: You write off a report simply because it was sponsored by Jews? You are SICK. Read the report carefully; the Australian former commander even admits that before he went to Israel he too believed the disinformation he had read, that is until he actually witnessed the IDF for himself. These are military experts, not bloggers like you [and the other BDSers] with absolutely no in-depth understanding of war on the ground. You reject this report because it does not fit into your hate-Israel campaign. Shame on you.

      • 1. What do you mean, “with absolutely no in-depth understanding of war on the ground”? He has no understanding at all, in depth or superficial, of Israel, the ME, geography, history, anything military, law …
        The only thing he understands is hating Je… err … Isr … err, ‘Zionists’.
        2. He doesn’t do shame. Such creatures never do.

          • We may both be guilty of a misunderstanding … sorry!
            In my defence, I have been falling about laughing all day reading Ashgar Bukhari’s rants all over the internet, and the deluge of mockery that ensured (you really need to go to the YouTube clip and the responses, just google YouTube+Bukhari+missing shoe). Too funny for words. Like Monty Python on crack.

            • leah27z – i must be on the same sites as you because I have been laughing over Bukhari’s rants [and the postings about his rants that have gone viral] all day long. It’s light relief in a dark scenario because it underlines and confirms what we already know about Bukhari and ALL antisemites: they are paranoid and only see ‘the Jew’ is to blame. I love your ‘Monty Python on crack’ line – brilliant!!

  3. Page 172 of recently released IDF report totally REFUTES the statements made by BBC, ITV, Guardian last summer claiming that Israel drops leaflets to warn Gaza residents but “sends them nowhere.” P.172 clearly shows leaflet in Arabic stating the safe routes / places to stay before the attack. Will any of the media outlets bother to print this document or this page??