IDF probing deaths of 8 family members in Gaza strike, believed home empty

Military sources tell newspaper the intent had been to hit Islamic Jihad infrastructure; says IDF spokesperson made up details about supposed target from social media rumors

Palestinians attend the funeral procession of 8 members of the same family who were killed in an Israeli airstrike, on November 14, 2019 in Deir al-Balah

By TOI staff and Agencies

The Israeli military is investigating a Thursday strike that killed eight family members in the central Gaza town of Deir el-Balah, the IDF said Friday.

“According to the information available to the IDF at the time of the strike, no civilians were expected to be harmed,” the army said. “The IDF is investigating the harm caused to civilians by the strike,” it said in a statement.

Military sources quoted by the Haaretz daily said the army was unaware of the family’s presence in the building when it conducted the strike, and that it had intended to hit Islamic Jihad infrastructure.

Haaretz said the building was in the IDF’s “target bank” several months ago, listed as a place of Islamic Jihad infrastructure. However, it reported, the list was not updated in recent months and no additional checks were made to see that the building was empty before the strike.

The report said the strike was aimed at destroying terror infrastructure and was not an attempt to target an Islamic Jihad leader.

On Thursday,  IDF Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee identified the father of the family, Rasmi Abu Malhous, 45, as the head of an Islamic Jihad rocket unit.

AFP reported on Friday that Islamic Jihad said Malhous was “known as a person affiliated with Islamic Jihad but he was not a commander”.

However, the IDF sources told Haaretz that Abu Malhous had no ties to Islamic Jihad and that Adraee’s statement, and a picture he tweeted purportedly showing Abu Malhous, were false and were based on social media rumors.

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