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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Military Admits False Reporting on Fatal Airstrike

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli military released false information about the type of weapon used in a deadly airstrike in the Gaza Strip, the army chief acknowledged Thursday, in a blow to the credibility of what many Israelis continue to regard as a trusted institution.

That credibility has occasionally been challenged in the past three years of fighting in the Middle East, with the military presenting different accounts of events than Palestinian officials and witnesses.

The latest controversy revolves around an Oct. 20 airstrike in the Nusseirat refugee camp in which, according to Palestinian count, 14 people were killed and about 70 wounded. The target of the strike was a van carrying suspected militants.

Details of the attack remain under censorship, including the type of weapon used.

In a briefing a day after the attack, the military said the strike was carried out by Apache helicopters firing Hellfire missiles. However, in recent days journalists and lawmakers have alleged that the attack was carried out by different means. The Hellfire has a relatively light warhead and a small kill radius. Yossi Sarid of the dovish Meretz party said he has information that the missile fired in Nusseirat would have caused more casualties.

In response, the army chief, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, said in a statement Thursday: "Perhaps, due to the operational and security sensitivity of the matter at hand, we erred in the way we chose to define the operational means we used."

The statement said there was no intention to mislead.

After meeting air force commander Major General Dan Halutz on Wednesday, Sarid said, "There is no doubt that the original report [by the military] was incorrect. ... More investigation is needed."