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UN Secretary General Kofi Annan doubts the findings of an IDF inquiry into the Gaza beach shelling.
"The Israeli claim that the beach blast was caused by an explosive charge at the site sounds strange to me. I don't believe it is plausible that the Palestinians planted charges in a place where civilians often spend their time," Annan told the London-based Al-Hayat daily.
Annan said he would send a representative on his behalf to the region to investigate the Palestinian claims that an IDF shell killed the Ghalia family on the Gaza beach.
Annan called on Israel to "respect international law and human life", urging the IDF to operate at a distance from civilians. The secretary general also condemned the firing of Kassam rockets at Israel.
Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat, a close aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, called for an international inquiry. He complained that Israel was trying to blame the Palestinians and warned, "this means that this crime could re-occur."
Head of the IDF investigative team, Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi, said any inquiry would come up with the same findings. According to Klifi, the IDF would consider supporting an international investigation if and when the subject comes up.
In Gaza, Human Rights Watch military expert Marc Garlasco inspected the shrapnel at the scene and saw the wounded. He concluded that the blast was caused by an Israeli shell. However, he held open the slim possibility that it was planted there by Palestinian militants, though fragment patterns did not back that.
"Our information certainly supports, I believe, an Israeli shell did come in and kill these people," he said, ruling out a land mine. Garlasco was the first independent expert to inspect the scene. Palestinians also rejected the possibility that their own explosives caused the fatal blast.
"This is a false allegation, and the Israeli occupation state is trying to escape from shouldering its responsibility by accusing Palestinians without evidence or any proof," said Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
"The eyewitnesses and the evidence that we have confirm that the massacre is the result of Israeli shelling, and the allegation about land mines planted by Palestinians is baseless," he said.
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