2009 Ibrahim al-Maqadna Mosque strike
|Unidentified mosque strike|
Screen shot of the cockpit video of the first explosion
|Location||Unidentified mosque in Gaza|
|Date||January 1, 2009|
|Perpetrators||Israeli Air Force or Israeli Defence Force|
The 2009 Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque strike occurred on January 3, 2009 as part of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza War when an Israeli missile hit the Ibrahim al-Maqadna mosque in the Gaza strip during evening prayers. Witnesses said over 200 Palestinians were praying inside at the time. At least thirteen people, including six children, were killed, and many more wounded. The mosque, located in the town of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, is named after a founder of Hamas who was killed by the Israelis in 2004.
Israel has accused Hamas of using mosques to hide weapons and ammunition. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit published videos showing secondary explosions that occurred after they had targeted mosques with missiles, alleging these were caused by the weapons and ammunition hidden inside of them. In July 2009, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a report stating that, "the IDF inquiry revealed that the mosque was not attacked at all." The report also stated that "the individuals reported as killed in this incident were in fact killed in other incidents not involving the mosque. Further, the supposed 'civilians' who were casualties of the attack were in fact Hamas operatives killed while fighting against the IDF." It was also noted that IDF rules of engagement "expressly forbid attacks directed against sacred places, unless they are used for military purposes."
The report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (aka Goldstone report) stated that the Israelis intentionally bombed the al-Maqadmah mosque on the outskirts of Jabilyah when between 200 and 300 men and women attended for their evening prayer, with fifteen people dying. Goldstone has said, "Assuming that weapons were stored in the mosque, it would not be a war crime to bomb it at night... It would be a war crime to bomb it during the day when 350 people are praying". Judge Goldstone has referred to the incident as a case where there is no other possible interpretation for what could have occurred other than a deliberate targeting of civilians. The report concluded that the al-Maqadma mosque was hit during evening prayers by an Israeli missile, killing at least 15 people and injuring 40 others. The report noted that there was no evidence that the mosque has been used to store weapons or that it was being used by Palestinian militants at the time. The report further described response of the Israeli Government, alleging that the mosque was not attacked at all, as "unsatisfactory and demonstrably false". Researcher of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) colonel (res.) Halevi asserted that in the course of the inquiry the commission did not consider other possibilities, such as a drone strike aimed at a group of militants nearby that could be supported by the fact that the blast hit just outside the mosque. He also stated that "[a]n examination of freely accessible Palestinian sources shows that the casualties in this incident were terrorist operatives", specifically naming 7 out of the 15 dead. According to witness statements, between 200 and 300 people were worshipping in the mosque when the attack took place. First hand investigation by Judge Goldstone's team revealed evidence of significant shrapnel damage within the mosque. The report also says that the mosque had unexpectedly combined its sunset and evening prayers on the day of the incident, and it is possible that this detail was not known to the IDF at the moment of the strike, added Halevi.
According to a 2010 report by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, following investigations carried out by Israel into allegations of misconduct and violations of the Law of Armed Conflict by the Israel Defense Forces, "an IDF officer was severely reprimanded and two other officers were sanctioned for failing to exercise appropriate judgment during an incident that resulted in civilian casualties in the Al-Maqadmah mosque".
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- Weaver, Matthew (2009-01-03). "Israel fires artillery shells into Gaza". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- Israeli troops enter Gaza Strip BBC News. 2009-01-03
- Syal, Rajeev; Balousha, Hazem (2009-01-04). "Six children among 12 killed in mosque blast". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
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- IDF Releases Information on Military Investigations related to Operation Cast Lead, IDF Spokesperson, 22 April 2009.