An Israeli army inquiry into fighting at a UN facility in Beit Hanoun Thursday found that IDF mortars did not play a role in the killing of 16 people in the school courtyard, dismissing claims that the military was responsible for their deaths.
The army admitted that an IDF-fired shell did hit the UN-run school’s yard, but at a time when there were no people in the area.
“A single errant mortar landed in the school courtyard, injuring no one,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday in a conference call.
Lerner described a scene of “intense fighting” in the vicinity of the school last Thursday afternoon, including volleys of anti-tank missiles fired at soldiers, who responded with live fire. The militant fire, Lerner said, came from the areas “adjacent to, and in the vicinity of, the school.”
Palestinian accounts said 16 people were killed in the school as a result of the fighting, with initial reports blaming Israel for the deaths.
Lerner suggested that the 16 dead and dozens of wounded could have been caught in the crossfire and brought into the courtyard, perhaps for treatment, or may have been hit by rockets or mortars fired by the militants themselves.
He said he had “no idea” where the dead had come from, and stated that it was “extremely unlikely” that anyone had been killed by the single mortar round that fell in the empty yard…
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