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Years on, Israel yet to respond to appeal on case of 4 Gaza boys killed on beach in 2014

Aug. 28, 2017 4:57 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 29, 2017 9:55 A.M.)
Palestinians play football on a beach as the sun sets over Gaza City on January 21, 2015. (AFP/Mohammed Abed, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- More than two years after an appeal was sent to an Israeli court demanding the reopening of a closed investigation into the 2014 Israeli missile attack that killed four children playing soccer on a beach in Gaza, Israeli authorities have remained silent and refused to respond to the appeal.

Israeli human rights group Adalah released a statement on Sunday condemning the Israeli government’s failure to respond to appeals from a number of rights groups, including Adalah, the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Adalah attorneys Muna Haddad and Tamim Younis wrote in the appeal letter that the case of the Bakr children “exemplifies Israel's flawed investigation system and unwillingness to genuinely carry out an investigation,” Adalah said in the statement.

"This is an unreasonable delay highlighting a lack of willingness on the part of [Israeli] authorities to conduct an effective investigation. They (Israeli authorities) are essentially thwarting any possibility of conducting such an investigation,” Haddad and Younis’ letter wrote, adding that Israel has an obligation to investigate any suspicion of war crimes under international law.

“An investigation must comply with the universal principles of independence, effectiveness, promptness, impartiality and transparency… The nature of this investigation and the unreasonable foot-dragging when it came to responding to parents' appeals are a gross violation of these international standards," Haddad and Younis said

The airstrike that killed the Abu Bakr children while they were playing soccer on a beach in Gaza in the midst of the 2014 Israeli offensive on the small besieged Palestinian territory was witnessed by foreign journalists covering the war and received widespread global media coverage.

The 51-day offensive, termed “Operation Protective Edge” by Israeli authorities, resulted in the killings of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the United Nations.

At least 142 families lost three or more members in attacks on residential buildings during the Israeli assault, which caused the deaths of 742 civilians, the UN reported in 2015, adding that there were credible allegations that the incidents amounted to war crimes.

Residents have continued to experience trauma in their daily lives following the 2014 Israeli offensive, as reconstruction efforts have moved at a glacial pace and with tens of thousands of Palestinians still displaced after losing their homes in 2014.

The UN has warned that the besieged Palestinian territory could become "uninhabitable" by 2020, as its estimated 2 million residents remain in dire poverty due to the nearly decade-long Israeli blockade and ongoing electricity crisis.

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