Human Rights Watch Backs Down

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After initially leaping to the conclusion that Israeli artillery was responsible for the explosion that killed several Palestinians on a Gaza beach, Human Rights Watch and their “military expert” Marc Garlasco are now backtracking: Human Rights Watch admits unable to contradict IDF. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

While sticking to its demand for the establishment of an independent inquiry into a blast on a Gaza beach 10 days ago that killed seven Palestinian civilians, the Human Rights Watch conceded Monday night for the first time since the incident that it could not contradict the IDF’s exonerating findings.

On Monday, Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi - head of the IDF inquiry commission that cleared the IDF of responsibility for the blast - met with Marc Garlasco, a military expert from the HRW who had last week claimed that the blast was caused by an IDF artillery shell. Following the three-hour meeting, described by both sides as cordial and pleasant, Garlasco praised the IDF’s professional investigation into the blast, which he said was most likely caused by unexploded Israeli ordnance left laying on the beach, a possibility also raised by Klifi and his team. …

Meanwhile Monday, The Post learned that the IDF was currently inspecting a second piece of shrapnel doctors had retrieved from one of the Palestinians wounded in the blast and currently being treated at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. A first piece of shrapnel, examined by the IDF as well as by an independent academic institute in Beersheba was found to not have come from a 155 mm shell, the type used in IDF artillery attacks on Kassam launch sites in the Gaza Strip. The second piece of shrapnel, sources said, was currently being examined in an IDF lab.

Garlasco told Klifi during the meeting that he was impressed with the IDF’s system of checks and balances concerning its artillery fire in the Gaza Strip and unlike Hamas which specifically targeted civilians in its rocket attacks, the Israelis, he said, invested a great amount of resources and efforts not to harm innocent civilians. “We do not believe the Israelis were targeting civilians.” Garlasco said. “We just want to know if it was an Israeli shell that killed the Palestinians.”

Lucy Mair - head of the HRW’s Jerusalem office - said Klifi’s team had conducted a thorough and professional investigation of the incident and made “a good assessment” when ruling out the possibility that an errant IDF shell had killed the seven Palestinians on the Gaza beach.

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