Israeli Army Says the Killing of 8 Gazan Family Members Was in Error

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Palestinians mourn during the funeral of members of the Kaware family, killed in an Israeli air strike on their house in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip July 9.

Eight noncombatants, all members of the Kaware family, were killed Tuesday in an Israel Air Force strike on their home in the Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis. According to a preliminary investigation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces, the results of which were released on Wednesday, the family returned prematurely to the home after being warned by the IDF that it would be targeted. The Israel Air Force said the deaths were not intentional.

The IDF says the home was the residence of Odeh Kaware, Hamas’ Khan Yunis company commander, and served as his headquarters. According to the preliminary investigation, after Israeli security forces informed family members by phone that the house was going to be bombed, they left the house. Then, in what the IAF calls “the knock on the roof,” a small missile, without an explosive warhead, was fired onto the building’s roof in order to underline the seriousness of the warning.

Apparently the family members began returning to the house just as the larger missile, meant to destroy the home, was fired. “There was nothing to be done, the munition was in the air and could not be diverted,” a senior air force officer said. “Although you see [the family members] running back into the house, there was no way to divert the missile,” he said.

Palestinian sources said eight people were killed and 25 wounded in the strike on the house.

A high-ranking IDF officer said on Tuesday that the defense establishment would continue to bomb the homes of senior Hamas operatives, adding that even though the IAF realizes that sometimes residents of a targeted building try to prevent the bombings by standing on the roof as human shields, “We will take down those houses.”

“If these people, like those yesterday, try to confront a plane in the air, and the pilot signals [that he plans to blow up the house] – get out, because that house will fall,” the officer, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

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