Israel's military opens eight new probes into its Gaza war conduct

Israel's military opens eight new probes into its Gaza war conduct

JERUSALEM - Israel's military said it had opened eight new criminal investigations into its Gaza war operations, including cases involving the deaths of 30 Palestinians.

The internal inquiries could help Israel challenge the work of a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry into possible war crimes committed by its forces and Palestinian militants in the 50-day conflict in July and August. Israel has said it would not cooperate with the panel, accusing it of bias.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in seven weeks of fighting, according to the Gaza health ministry. Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed.

In an announcement late on Saturday, the military said it would investigate a July 20 air strike on the home of the Abu Jama family in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis in which 27 Palestinians were killed. Human rights groups have said the dead were civilians.

The new probes will also examine the deaths of two Palestinian ambulance drivers on July 25 in Israeli strikes and an incident four days later in which, according to a rights group, a Palestinian carrying a white flag was killed.

Four other inquiries will look into allegations of looting by Israeli soldiers, the statement said.

In September, the military opened five criminal investigations into its operations during the war, including attacks that killed four Palestinian children on a beach and 17 people at a UN school.

In all, about 85 incidents are under various stages of legal review by the military.

Israel has said that Hamas, the dominant force in the Gaza Strip, bears ultimate responsibility for civilian casualties because the Islamist group's fighters operated in densely populated neighbourhoods.

Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas. The fighting was ended by an Egyptian-brokered truce.

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