Hamas has condemned a Tel Aviv inquiry that cleared the Israeli military of any wrongdoing over a 2002 raid that killed a leader of the Palestinian movement and sixteen others, nine of them children.
The probe’s findings are "a shameless affront to the feelings of the Palestinian people and an official endorsement of crimes and the practice of terrorism," Hamas representative Fawzi Barhum said Monday.
In July 2002, an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-tone bomb on the home of Salah Shehadeh, the head of Hamas’s military wing, in Gaza City, killing him and sixteen others.
A committee was appointed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 to investigate the attack. The commission of inquiry handed its report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
It said that the high civilian death toll was the result of a chain of intelligence failures and concluded that no "criminal offence" had been committed.
The report, authored by retired Supreme Court judge Tova Strasberg-Cohen, said the decision to kill Shehadeh was justified.
"An examination of the operation according to the rules of Israeli and international law unequivocally removes any suspicion that a criminal offence was committed by any of those involved in the operation," it said.
The report also said those who planned the operation were unaware that so many civilians were present because of "incomplete, unfocused and inconsistent intelligence information."
The commission recommended no legal sanction against any of the decision-makers.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), however, said the attack is classified as a war crime and a crime against humanity.