Gaza family sues Israel over Cast Lead

Family says IDF ordered them into warehouse, hit it; Interpol studies Iran's request to arrest 25 Israelis.

gaza air strike 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza air strike 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Samouni family from Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood filed a suit against Israeli officials on Tuesday morning asking for NIS 851 million in damages. Twenty-nine members of the family were killed and 45 were wounded in the course of two days during Operation Cast Lead, according to the family. Attorney Muhammad Fukra filed the suit in Nazareth District Court against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. According to the court documents, the family lived in a three-story house and were sitting at home on January 4 when an IDF tank shell struck the top floor of the building. The suit argues that as a result of this strike, the building was burned and seven family members were killed. Then, in what the suit described as a "catastrophe," the family fled to a second building, where nearly 100 people were seeking shelter. However, this second location was also hit by IDF shelling, and an additional 22 family members were allegedly killed. A large number of the casualties were under the age of 14, according to the Samounis. "The [Israeli] security forces did not inform them and did not warn them as is usually acceptable before opening fire," Fukra wrote in the suit. "The family sat in their house, in a place that was supposed to provide them with quiet, calm and rest - a place far from the shooting. There is not question that this is a case of criminal negligence by the military forces, who murdered and injured innocent people who were just in their house." Fukra said he expected similar suits to be filed in coming weeks. Last week, a suit was filed in the name of the Dib family from Jabalya, in northern Gaza, for NIS 183m. after 11 of the family's children were killed and five were wounded. This is not the first time Palestinians have attempted to sue the government and security forces for damage to property and persons. In the past, however, Israeli courts have rejected such suits, arguing that the harm caused occurred during a time of war and that security forces' actions were a result of operational necessity. Government spokesman Mark Regev said Hamas was responsible for the deaths because it used civilians as human shields. Also on Tuesday, Interpol said it was studying a request from Iran to place 25 Israeli officials on its most-wanted list as a result of Operation Cast Lead. According to the international police agency, the unusual step of confirming the request publicly was taken, "as Iranian government officials have made their request public." Interpol indicated its legal team was studying the Iranian request for the issuance of 25 "red notices," the highest-level alert Interpol issues. The agency, based in Lyon, France, said it received the request on Saturday.