Astounding Update on Gaza Beach (2006): Father played with unexploded ordnance

On June 9, 2006, just before the “Summer War”, a tragedy struck the Ghalia family on a beach in Gaza: an explosion killed most of the family members and badly wounded others who came to Israel for treatment. I have written much and put out a video on the “Gaza Beach Massacre” and even produced a short documentary analyzing the case. Now, as an aside in an article by Amir Oren in Ha-Aretz (HT/Chaim Sonnenfeld), we find out what happened according to one of the Ghalia girls who came to Israel for treatment after her body had been thoroughly cleaned of shrapnel by Palestinian doctors — at danger to her life.

However, several months later, the Olmert-Peretz government abandoned the offensive approach. The decision to also deploy artillery against rocket attacks was quickly canceled following the disaster that befell the Ghalia family on a Gaza beach. One of the girls in the family, Ilham Ghalia, who was hospitalized in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, told a story that was different from what Palestinian propaganda would have us believe: Her father caused the lethal explosion when he handled an unexploded ordnance left behind from a previous incident.

It’s not clear what she knows about what her father was playing with, whether it was Israeli or Hamas ordnance. (I speculated that it might have been Hamas ordnance in the documentary.) But what is clear is that the nonsense the media immediately circulated, and was later thoroughly “confirmed” by HRW “military expert” Mark Garlasco, was sheer Pallywood fiction.

The article continues in a rather disconcerting fashion:

Decision makers in the government and IDF for some reason shelved her admission, which relieved Israel of blame. This anemic attitude contributed to the failure to prevent the attack on Kerem Shalom and the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

Tzipi Livni told Christiane Amanpour that the Israelis have learned from the past. Let’s hope so.

19 Responses to Astounding Update on Gaza Beach (2006): Father played with unexploded ordnance

  1. Pelican's Point says:

    I find this totally maddening. Israel’s life largely depends on the goodwill and trust of honest people in the west – voters especially, who are faced with a daily cocktail of toxic anti-israel lies and propaganda – much of which is documented on this website.

    Yet, Israel, fails repeatedly to stand up for itself when it has the chance. It’s almost like Israeli Jews are acting as if they are still living psychologically in the diaspora – afraid to complain or make waves.

    People have a right to be angry when they are lied about and attacked. If they don’t get angry and constantly pull their punches – their friends will naturally wonder why. And their enemies will sharpen their knives.

    Israel, it’s long past time to get angry. It’s time to righteously kick some Hamas butt.

  2. […] My friend Richard Landes has an astounding update on the Gaza Beach tragedy from […]

  3. E.G. says:

    Just in case it might have been an Israeli ordnance, in which case Israel would still be held responsible, someone probably considered that enough damage had already been done. A dry report cannot match or undo a vivid scene in a person’s mind.

  4. Pelican's Point says:

    EG: “Just in case it might have been an Israeli ordnance, in which case Israel would still be held responsible, someone probably considered that enough damage had already been done. A dry report cannot match or undo a vivid scene in a person’s mind.”

    Just in case it might have been an Israeli ordinance does not mean in any way that Israel was criminally responsible. That beach was used as a rocket launching site and had been the target of IDF commando raids previously. Criminal responsibility would require that the Israeli Navy knew those were civilians and purposely targeted them.

    If that happened Israel should have tried and prosecuted those involved – as I have little doubt Israel would have done based on past responses to such crimes.

    That said, I am puzzled by the way this information was released so casually. Also that the author cites no source for this astounding information.

    As far as “being held responsible” – for the great majority out there it seems, Israel will be held responsible anyway, and for anything bad that happens. All the more reason for Israel to mount a credible information campaign to present the unvarnished truth, based on the best of their knowledge, in a reliable easily accessible format and in a place where anyone can find it when they are interested.

    Israelis are smart, creative people fighting a just defensive war. They should stop acting like dumb, unimaginative losers trying to avoid the truth.

    (They are doing better in the current Gaza operation but they could improve the timeliness of their statements and provide a common website where people could go for updates. Using U-tube is smart but not as a primary source.)

  5. Pelican's Point says:

    I also don’t want to overstate my case. I am very encouraged by examples like this excellent video that Israel’s IDF has produced and is now available on YouTube.

    I am starting to see that Israel learned more than how to fight urban terror cells since the summer war with Hisb’allah.

    Keep up the good work, Israel. The world needs to see many more of these.

  6. Pelican's Point says:

    And now I must criticize again. I have been closely monitoring the UN School event this morning where 30 some Pal civilians were killed by IDF fire. At first several hours passed while every anti-israel blog on the net made made the expected comments about the ruthless bloodthirsty Jews.

    Then the IDF responded saying that they were fired upon by a mortar crew from the school grounds. That the return IDF mortar fire set off booby trapped charges that had been set inside the school by the terrorists. That’s what killed the civilians. With further updates the IDF said they had recovered the bodies of the terrorists (even named 2 of them) and said they recovered their mortar and other weapons.

    OK, that was a fairly reasonable response. Slow, but welcome.

    Just now, listening to NPR I hear a report on this that says that the IDF “claim” that that is how it happened but that the UN had made a statement that the school was very well marked as a safe zone for civilians and that the coordinates were given to the ID. Finally, that there were “absolutely no militants firing from the school”.

    I don’t trust a thing the UN says – but many others out there have no idea how anti-israel the UN is. They’re way too busy watching American “Idle”.

    So, I must ask. Where are the IDF still and video photos of the Hamas mortar and dead militants in the school grounds? The IDF spokesman website and YouTube site has no response to this latest charge at all and hasn’t been updated for 4 hours now.

    You IDF folks have to do much better than this.

  7. Annee says:

    I have always believed that the way the Arabs cleared the site at the beach so rapidly, and also cleaned up the little girl that went to the Israeli hospital was an unspoken admission that it was one of theirs. If indeed the remains of the left over had been Israeli they would have paraded it in front of every UN, EU body possible. The fact they did not speaks volumes. We know that terrorists keep their families around them for protection, so its even a remote possibility that the father was not ‘playing’ with the ordnance, but that he was actually placing it there and it went off unexpectedly. Who knows? To most children up to a certain age, life is a game, what the daughter saw as playing could have been more sinister. I cannot see any normal father ‘playing’ with such lethal thing with his family around, surely he would have yelled to them to stay away.

  8. Jonathan Levy says:

    The problem with Amir Oren’s article is that it provides no source. I remember the incident at the time, and this new version was not published. Now it suddenly surfaces as hearsay. Who interviewed the girl? When did this interview take place? Is there a transcript? Was this something one of the nurses heard her say? Which nurse? Did the girl say it in Hebrew, or does the nurse speak Arabic?

    Amir Oren’s article raises more questions than it answers, even if the scenario is quite plausible.

    Before we get all excited about this – what is the source?

  9. Jonathan Levy says:

    Pelican’s Point:
    “So, I must ask. Where are the IDF still and video photos of the Hamas mortar and dead militants in the school grounds?”

    You are so right, it pains the heart to think of this. So many UAVs flying around Gaza, how hard is it to get a good video for propaganda purposes? So many soldiers in Gaza – why isn’t there a video unit which assigns one soldier-cameraman to each platoon, and another unit on-base to edit the videos? Betselem hands out video cameras to random Arabs – can’t we do one better?

    The situation has improved a bit in this war, but it could be so much better. Instead, we have to pit dry explanations from a talking head against color videos from the Palestinian side.

  10. Cynic says:

    Pelican’s Point,

    Jpost has a an article
    Witnesses: Hamas fired from school

    in which they wrote:
    Two residents of the area near UN school that was shelled by the IDF on Tuesday said that they had seen a small group of terrorists firing mortar rounds from a street close to the school.

    Now just this afternoon around 11am EST Israel’s channel 10 showed video made by Iz Al-Din Al-Quassam which shows them firing mortar rounds from a town street.

    And this of course:
    “As one of the most densely populated places in the world, it is clear that more civilians will be killed,” Gaylard said.
    “These tragic incidents need to be investigated, and if international humanitarian law has been contravened, those responsible must held accountable.”

    But of course for the international community the firing of rockets and mortars by Hamas and Iz Al-Din Al-Quassam into Israeli towns was not contrary to “humanitarian law”!

  11. igout says:

    Israel needs to boil its case down to something so simple and terse that any gnat brain can absorb and repeat it.

  12. Cynic says:


    They will just ignore it. Business as usual not letting facts get in the way.

  13. […] The Augean Stables Astounding Update on Gaza Beach (2006): Father played with unexploded ordnance and Meditations on Moderation and […]

  14. Pelican's Point says:

    How disappointing. Israel is losing a major opportunity here. The IDF has set up three internet sources for information.


    Youtube channel:

    Last update over a day ago. 3 entries 2 days ago. 1 entry 6 days ago. etc. I think people got tired of checking to see if anything new was posted or if their subscription wasn’t working.


    IDF Spokesperson Website:

    1 newsy little article a day. Almost no useful copy and maybe a picture. Almost useless.


    IDF Dover English News:

    This is the best site with article thumbnails on the front page with links to slightly longer versions. but even this one falls way short of being an interesting website for people looking for information in the progress of the operation. Stories are unrelated to any theme such as why we are here. Stories read like an infomercial.


    Memo to IDF: Millions of people over the world are spending hours a day checking the internet for updated information on your progress. They’ll read anything you put up if it is presented well. Good blogs and websites that have almost no access to real information (like you do) are getting thousands of hits per hour.

    You are wasting a wonderful opportunity to get your message out there. There are many thousands of us non-Jews who are on your side all the way. Even people who hate Israel would read whatever you put up. You can make a good case for yourself because you are in the right legally and morally. Make your case. Please

  15. oao says:

    Memo to IDF: Millions of people over the world are spending hours a day checking the internet for updated information on your progress.

    Dk how many millions, but they are certainly those who already know enough about the truth to be on israel’s side.

    nothing israel or the pals do will make a dent in the opinions of those anti-israel/pro-jihad. pls realize that those are not interested in empirical reality. they have decided that israel is an inconvenience and should go away so that the mulsims will stop the jihad against the west.

  16. […] Artillerie geändert (die IDF schwor, dass sie in dieser Gegend überhaupt nicht geschossen hatte). Jetzt kommt raus, dass eines der überlebenden Mädchen (säuberlich und gesundheitsgefährdend von Splittern […]

  17. Fathers says:

    […] Augean Stables » Astounding Update on Gaza Beach (2006): Father … […]

  18. […] The link is to a discussion of the Gaza Beach Affair, which I covered quite extensively (last update here). Here’s the passage to which Heller refers: On Monday, the Human Rights Watch, while […]

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