(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
Today, August 2, 2006, the IDF Chief of Staff was presented with the findings of the inquiry conducted into the incident in Qana on July 30th.
The inquiry confirms the information provided in the press briefing held by the IDF on the day of the incident, according to which the IDF targeted the building in an aerial attack on July 30th at 00:52 with two missiles, the first of which exploded and the second was apparently a dud.
The building was targeted in accordance with the military's guidelines regarding the use of fire against suspicious structures inside villages whose residents have been warned to evacuate, and which were adjacent to areas from where rockets are fired towards Israel. The guidelines were drafted based on surveillance and study of the behavior of the terrorists, who use civilian structures inside villages to store weaponry and hide in after launching rockets attacks.
Since July 12th, over 150 rockets were launched from within the village of Qana itself and the immediate surrounding area. The residents of Qana and the villages surrounding it were warned several times, through various media, to evacuate the area.
The IDF operated according to information that the building was not inhabited by civilians and was being used as a hiding place for terrorists. Had the information indicated that civilians were present in the building the attack would not have been carried out. Prior to the attack on the aforementioned building several other buildings which were part of the infrastructure for terror activity in the area were targeted.
In his summary the Chief of Staff Lt. General Dan Halutz again expressed his sorrow for the deaths of civilians, among them children, in the incident in Qana. He stated that the fight against terror, which cynically uses civilians as human shields and intentionally operates from within civilian villages and infrastructure, is much more difficult than traditional military combat and presents us with both operational and value oriented challenges.
The Chief of Staff emphasized that "The Hizbullah organization places Lebanese civilians as a defensive shield between itself and us while IDF places itself as a defensive shield between the citizens of Israel and Hizbullah's terror. That is the principal difference between us."
The Chief of Staff instructed that guidelines for opening fire against suspicious targets be evaluated and updated immediately, while staying relevant with operational needs and the dynamic nature of the information received, as is done on a regular basis.
The findings of the inquiry were also presented to the Minister of Defense.