The Israeli occupation military’s top lawyer on Wednesday closed the case on one of the bloodiest attacks during Gaza war in 2014, deciding not to file any criminal charges against those involved in a massive shelling of southern Gaza that left at least 72 civilians killed.
The occupation military said it also completed the investigation of seven other, lower-profile cases in which soldiers were said to have unnecessarily killed Palestinian civilians, finding that “no crimes or misdeeds were committed.”
The military’s findings regarding the “Black Friday” offensive, the nickname for the massacre in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, largely matched those of the occupation army’s Southern Command’s investigation shortly after the war.
At 9:06 a.m. on August 1, 2014, just over an hour after the start of a humanitarian ceasefire, fighters from the Hamas Palestinian group emerged from a tunnel in the southeastern part of Rafah and attacked a nearby IOF unit, killing two occupation soldiers and capturing a third, dragging him back into their tunnel.
Six minutes later, troops in the area initiated the so-called Hannibal Protocol, a controversial order giving commanders near unlimited freedom to do anything necessary to prevent the capture of a soldier.
According to IOF figures, in the ensuing offensive, 42 armed Palestinian combatants were killed, along with 72 others, whom the military acknowledged “were likely civilians.” The high death toll led to the day’s events later being called “Black Friday.”
The Israeli offensive lasted approximately 10 hours, during which time artillery cannons launched some 250 shells, tanks fired approximately 140 shells and Israeli aircraft conducted dozens of strikes against targets in the city, which is home to approximately 150,000 people, according to the findings.
“In media publications, in reports received by the Military Advocate General, and in requests from and documents produced by non-governmental organizations and international groups, it was alleged that the IDF during the battle acted indiscriminately and disproportionally, and mass casualties and mass destruction was caused by the way it acted,” the occupation army said referring to IOF.
“The events of the battle of Rafah have been investigated in a comprehensive and professional manner by the General Staff’s investigatory mechanism. Following a thorough consideration of the findings of the investigation, Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek decided that there is no cause to open a criminal investigation into the events of the battle,” the occupation military said in a statement.
Source: Israeli media