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(photo credit: AP [file])
The IDF Military Police has opened an investigation into Palestinian allegations that soldiers opened fire and killed two children who were waving a white flag during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The complaint was filed by the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights on behalf of the Abd Rabbo family from Jabalya, 4 m. north of Gaza City.
Last Wednesday, the Military Police met with the father, Khaled, and mother, Suad, at the Erez crossing to the northern Gaza Strip, IDF sources said.
The investigation is focusing on the claim that soldiers opened fire at close range on the Abd Rabbo family, killing two daughters and severely injuring a third, while ignoring the white flag that one of the family members was waving as a sign that they were civilians.
Last month, Human Rights Watch published a report claiming that during Operation Cast Lead the IDF killed 11 Palestinians who were holding white flags.
HRW said that the soldiers who took part in the shootings had failed to take necessary precautions, as required by the laws of war, in which case they should face criminal charges.
At the time, the IDF said that the document was based on "unreliable witness reports."
The HRW report mentioned the incident involving the Abd Rabbo family that took place on January 7, four days after IDF ground troops invaded Gaza. According to Palestinians, soldiers shot and killed Amal Abd Rabbo, two, and Su'ad Abd Rabbo, seven, wounded their grandmother, Su'ad Abd Rabbo, 54, and seriously wounded Samar Abd Rabbo, four.
The grandmother told HRW, "We saw one tank and we saw others behind. We were with the white flags in order to make them see that we were civilians. We spent seven to nine minutes waving the flags and we were looking right at them. And suddenly they opened fire and the girls fell to the ground."
HRW concluded that "eyewitness accounts, tank tracks, an ammunition box and bullet casings found at the scene, and an examination of the grandmother by forensic experts indicate that an Israeli soldier fired upon identifiable and unarmed women and children."
The IDF has said it was already investigating several similar allegations, including an incident on January 13 when four civilians were reportedly killed even though they were waving a white flag. On another occasion, on January 4, a tank crew allegedly fired a shell at a group of civilians who were carrying white flags.
The supposed incidents were brought to the IDF's attention by HRW as well as other NGOs, and even by Palestinians themselves. The IDF said that it was conducting more than 100 investigations of soldiers involved in Operation Cast Lead.