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Israeli commanders won’t be charged in Cast Lead killings

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s military said it will take no legal actions against the commanders who ordered the attack on a compound that resulted in the deaths of 21 members of a Palestinian family.

In a letter Tuesday to the human rights group B’Tselem, which had filed a complaint against the killings, the Israel Defense Forces prosecution said the case was closed after its investigation concluded that the accidental killing during Operation Cast Lead was not done "in a manner that would indicate criminal responsibility."

On Jan. 4, 2009, Israeli soldiers gathered about 100 members of the extended Samouni family into a house in Gaza City. The following morning another military unit, believing they were terrorists holed up in the house, shelled the building, causing it to collapse on the occupants. Nine children were among the dead.

Following the IDF’s decision, B’Tselem called for an independent body to look into the incident.

"It is unacceptable that no one is found responsible for an action of the army that led to the killing of 21 uninvolved civilians, inside the building they entered under soldiers’ orders, even if this was not done deliberately," said Yael Stein, the director of research for B’Tselem. "The way the army has exempted itself of responsibility for this event, even if only to acknowledge its severity and clarify its circumstances, is intolerable," 

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