2006 shelling of Beit Hanoun

The 2006 shelling of Beit Hanoun by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) happened on 8 November, when shells hit a row of houses in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun,[1] killing at least 19 Palestinians and wounding more than 40.[2][3] The shelling followed the IDF's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in completion of a week-long operation codenamed Operation "Autumn Clouds", which the Israeli government stated had been intended to stop the Qassam rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants.[4] The Israeli government apologized and attributed the incident to a technical malfunction.


Israel stated that the shelling was in response to a Qassam rocket attack from that location, possibly from a car driven into the area.[5] According to the Israeli military, the artillery had misfired due to a malfunction of the guidance system.[6][7] At least 40 people were wounded. Thirteen of the dead belonged to the same family.[4][8]

Palestinian response[]

Israeli response[]

United Nations investigation[]

On 15 November 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted resolution S-3/1[permanent dead link] which called for a fact-finding mission, consisting of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor Christine Chinkin of the United Kingdom to travel to Beit Hanoun.[13] The resolution was accepted by a wide margin, with only seven countries opposing and six abstaining.[14]

In reaction to the resolution, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel released a statement noting that Israel had already expressed regret regarding the incident, decrying the UN's "ignoring of the ongoing terrorism against Israeli civilians by the Palestinian terrorist organizations", and expecting the UN "to show a more balanced and fairer approach toward Israel and not to automatically adopt any notion from those whose only desire is to discr Israel."[15]

On three occasions, the mission attempted to travel to Beit Hanoun via Israel. Each of these attempts was frustrated by the refusal of the Government of Israel to cooperate with the mission.[16] The mission finally visited Beit Hanoun from 27 to 29 May 2008.

In its final report, the mission concluded that "[I]n the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military – who is in sole possession of the relevant facts – the mission must conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime."[17]

Tutu has vigorously protested the overall response to the incident: "The right to life has been violated not just through the killings [in Beit Hanoun], but also through the lack of an adequate investigation of the killings."[18]


Andrew Exum has stated that the Israeli military had a "long history of mistakes causing many civilian casualties." About the 2006 shelling, he said that: "it was found it was caused by a faulty programming card in a counter-battery radar system, called Shilem, designed to track an enemy projectile's trajectory back to its point of origin and direct artillery fire back at that spot. The inquiry also found that the artillery crew had not recalibrated their weapons overnight and did not have spotters monitoring whether their fire was accurate, so 12 to 15 artillery shells were fired before it was realised they were hitting an apartment complex. It is not clear what changes the IDF made to its targeting methods as a result."[19]

International response[]


  1. ^ Isabel Kershner (19 May 2007). "Israeli Army Strikes Gaza Rocket-Launching Cell". New York Times.
  2. ^ a b 12 children among 19 killed by Israeli tank fire, The Guardian
  3. ^ a b Italy: Israel shelled Beit Hanoun deliberately, YNet Israel News, 12 November 2006
  4. ^ a b "Israeli shelling kills 18 in Gaza". BBC News. 8 November 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2006.
  5. ^ a b How Israel put Gaza civilians in firing line, The Guardian, 12 November 2006
  6. ^ Peretz to reevaluate IDF policy of shelling northern Gaza Strip, Haaretz, 9 November 2006
  7. ^ IDF: Inquiry results regarding the incident in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006 Archived 5 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, 9 November 2006
  8. ^ Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the Occupied TerritoriesB'tselem
  9. ^ Israeli fire kills scores in Gaza; Palestinians, world slam attack, AFP, 8 November 2006
  10. ^ a b Ian Fisher (9 November 2006). "Israeli Leader Tries to Ease Anger After Shelling". The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b c Security Council urged to condemn Israel's 'aggression' in Gaza, AFP, 9 November 2006
  12. ^ Gush Shalom in Action Blood on the Flag[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ President of Human Rights Council appoints Christine Chinkin[permanent dead link] to serve on High-Level Fact-Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun, UNISPAL, 6 December 2006.
  14. ^ UN General Assembly by wide margin deplores Israeli military action, calls for dispatch of Mission to Beit Hanoun. 17 November 2006.
  15. ^ "The UN General Assembly ignores terrorism". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 19 November 2006.
  16. ^ IMPLEMENTATION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 60/251 OF 15 MARCH 2006 Archived 30 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine ENTITLED "HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL", A/HRC/5/20, United Nations Human Rights Council, 18 June 2007.
  17. ^ HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES[permanent dead link], Report of the high-level fact-finding mission to Beit Hanoun established under Council resolution S-3/1, A/HRC/9/26, United Nations Human Rights Council, 1 September 2008.
  18. ^ Tutu urges Israel 'war crime' probe Al-jazeera Friday, 19 September 2008. Verified 8 January 2009.
  19. ^ Gaza civilian death toll raises questions about Israeli military training, Julian Borger, 31 July 2014, The Guardian
  20. ^ Israel/Occupied Territories: Amnesty International delegate visits scene of Gaza Strip killings Archived 16 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Amnesty International USA
  21. ^ a b c d e In quotes: Gaza attack reaction, BBC

External links[]