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Friday, March 13, 2009

Gaza family sues Olmert for $200m after 29 relatives killed

A Palestinian family who lost 29 members in Israel's offensive in Gaza filed a law suit Tuesday against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders, demanding some $200 million in compensation.

The Samouni family, from the southern Gaza City suburb of Zaytoun, filed the suit at the Nazareth District Court against outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

In the morning of January 4, an IDF tank shell hit the family's three-story building, killing seven of its members.

Their apartment was burnt down completely and the survivors took refuge in a shelter, but the building was shelled the following day, and 22 more family members were killed. Both shellings injured 45 other family members, most of them children aged eight to 14, according to a statement by the prosecution.

The lawsuit accuses IDF of "criminal negligence" by killing innocent civilians who were seeking refugee in their home and a shelter.

"The plaintiffs' negligence, lack of caution, and violation of duty have manifested in an act of unjustifiable killing," the statement said.

"The soldiers who fired the shells did so in utter disregard of the innocent civilians present in the area of the fighting," it charged.

"This is not the only lawsuit," Attorney Mohammed Fukra told reporters at the court. "The Samouni family approached me last week and I imagine that in the coming weeks similar lawsuits will be filed."

A Palestinian family from the northern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabaliya, 11 of whose children were killed in an Israeli strike, filed a similar lawsuit last week, demanding more than 40 million dollars in compensation.

Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed during a three-week Israeli offensive in the coastal strip in December and January.

Israel launched the operation in response to ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza at its southern towns and villages.

Thirteen Israelis were killed by rockets and in ground fighting.

By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondent, and DPA


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