The Israeli military reportedly believes most of the children killed in Gaza during this weekend’s three days of fighting died as a result of explosions caused by failed rocket launches by Palestinian terror operatives and not due to Israeli strikes.
According to an unsourced Sunday report in the Haaretz daily, the military believes Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was responsible for at least 12 of the 15 deaths of children reported by the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza in the fighting.
The IDF has presented what it says is video evidence showing that seven people killed in Jabaliya on Saturday night, including four children — in what Palestinian media claimed was an Israeli strike — were in fact killed by a failed PIJ rocket that landed inside the Strip.
A second disputed incident resulted in the deaths of five children — aged 4, 13, 14, 16, and 17 — in an explosion at the Jabaliya refugee camp on Sunday, which was said by Palestinians to be an Israeli attack, but which Israel believes was also the result of a failed launch, the report said.
In another incident on Sunday, three more children were killed, along with their father Yasser Anbahin (who was claimed by the Hamas terror group as a member), when their house was damaged in an explosion. The IDF is said to believe that too was caused by a rocket misfire by Islamic Jihad.
The military did not produce any evidence for its claims related to the second two incidents.
Throughout the operation, Israel made clear it would avoid targeting civilians, as well as Hamas members and assets.
The military said Monday that approximately 1,100 rockets were fired toward Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Several of the rockets reached as far as Tel Aviv and towns around Jerusalem.
Approximately 200 rockets fell short of their targets and landed inside the Gaza Strip, the military said.
While Palestinian Islamic Jihad is believed to possess thousands of projectiles, the vast majority of them are thought to be short-range rockets or mortars, according to military assessments.
The terror group has some long-range rockets, but not close to the capacity that the Hamas terror group has, which managed to attack central Israel repeatedly during a war in May 2021.
At the same time, upgrades to the Iron Dome air defense system’s Tamir missiles have raised the successful interception rate to around 96 percent.
Addressing the operation on Monday, IDF Spokesman Ran Kochav said, with regard to civilian fatalities, “More Palestinians died from failed fire from Islamic Jihad than from IDF fire.”
Kochav noted that there were fatalities, including children, from “secondary explosions” as a result of IDF operations and that an investigation would bring to light exactly what the military’s role was in the deaths.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Monday identified 12 members of its military wing killed in fighting with Israel, including two of the terror group’s top commanders in Gaza.
Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, said two members of its military wing were killed in the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad, while the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said one of its fighters was killed.
Kochav said the military believes 51 people were killed in Gaza during the round of fighting, 24 of them from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
According to the military, 16 people uninvolved in the hostilities were killed by Gazan rockets that fell short.
A further 11 people were killed who were not affiliated with terror groups, meaning that a total of 27 Gazan civilians — including a number of children — were killed in the fighting.
Kochav stressed that the military’s figures are estimates.
The Gaza Health Ministry, run by Hamas, said that at least 44 Palestinians had been killed, including 15 children, and 360 people had been wounded since Friday.
A ceasefire took effect at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, ending the fighting between Israel and PIJ in Gaza, after a deal was brokered by Egypt and confirmed by both sides.
The Gaza operation was launched after several days of road closures and lockdowns in Israeli communities near the Strip due to the alert of an imminent attack, with the PIJ seeking to avenge Israel’s August 1 arrest of its West Bank leader, Bassem Saadi.
The IDF said it carried out strikes on approximately 170 targets linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including senior officials and activists of the terror group.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.