Evidence points to Israeli role in deadly blast: “BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip — Two weeks after an explosion on a Gaza Strip beach killed eight picnickers and turned images of an 11-year-old Palestinian wailing over her dead father into an icon of the Arab-Israeli conflict, new evidence is raising questions about the Israeli version of what took place.

The Israeli military cleared itself of responsibility for the deaths, saying that whatever exploded June 9 wasn’t an errant shell fired by Israeli soldiers during a barrage of the waterfront. Based on video clips from one of its ships, Israel concluded the explosion came at least 10 minutes after the military had stopped shelling.

But medical logs, cell phone records and other evidence suggest the explosion took place during the barrage and probably was caused by an artillery round.” If no one had been at the beach to capture the explosion’s aftermath, the incident might have passed quickly with a few Palestinian condemnations and a brisk Israeli retort.

But a cameraman caught 11-year-old Huda Ghaliya sobbing over the body of her father. The unsettling images, broadcast around the world, made the attack an international drama.

Israel is standing by its conclusion: No Israeli shell fired that Friday hit the beachgoers.

“We don’t know what caused it, but we know what didn’t cause it: It wasn’t any artillery fired that day,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jacob Dallal said.

Dallal said it could have been a defective shell buried in the sand that someone in the family triggered accidentally or a booby trap that Palestinian militants had planted.

Human Rights Watch offered to provide the Israeli military with shrapnel it pulled from a car that was hit by the blast, but investigators refused, said Marc Garlasco, a Human Rights Watch researcher and former Pentagon analyst. More…

This situation is sure to add fuel to the fire that is already burning out of control. Israeli officials would be advised to come clean and consider acknowledging the posibility of collateral damage to innocents killed during their last strike. Stonewalling their blunder will not improve the already out of control tensions in the region. – ZZ