The family of four Palestinian Arab children killed in an Israeli airstrike on a beach during last summer's Gaza war expressed anger Friday over the closure of a probe into the incident, AFP reported.
The IDF, which launched the investigation after the 50-day July-August war ended, announced late Thursday that the attack had not violated international law, and said it was closing the case.
"Israel behaves as if it's a country above international law," Zakariya Bakr, the uncle of the children who died, told AFP.
"It's not unusual for the occupation (Israel), which shells houses with their occupants inside them, and kills children, to declare its soldiers innocent,” he charged.
"We urge the international community to act seriously to stop this farce," he said.
On July 16, cousins Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both aged 10, nine-year-old Mohamed Ramez Bakr and 11-year-old Ismail Mohamed Bakr were playing on the beach in Gaza City when they were hit in two separate airstrikes.
The IDF said in its report that it had decided to "close the investigation file, in the absence of a suspicion regarding the commission of a criminal offence by IDF soldiers."
The report said the army had targeted an area of the beach that had been used exclusively by terrorists and separated from civilians.
It also said the "attack was aimed at figures who were understood to be militants from Hamas's naval forces," and that they were "not identified, at any point during the incident, as children."
"Under the circumstances… it would not have been possible for the operational entities involved to have identified these figures, via aerial surveillance, as children," the IDF explained.
The army said it based the investigation on testimony by soldiers and officers, media footage and other documents, but was unable to take direct witness testimony from Gazans because witnesses declined to meet.
The incident is among those likely to be presented by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as evidence of alleged Israeli “war crimes”.
On January 16 the ICC announced "a preliminary examination" into Israel's actions over a period including the Gaza war in which about 2,200 Palestinians were killed, mainly civilians.
On April 1, the PA acceded to the ICC with the goal of trying Israeli leaders over alleged abuses in the Gaza war and alleged crimes.
The IDF has expressed confidence that its own internal probes will be sufficient to head off action by the Hague-based court.
A detailed study after Operation Protective Edge proved 49% of the casualties in Gaza were terrorists, meaning the IDF achieved a 1:1 civilian to combatant ratio almost unprecedented in urban warfare.
The IDF has revealed Hamas's deep embedding of its terrorist infrastructure in the heart of the civilian population, including UN facilities, and cynical use of human shields to protect terror targets.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)