Coalition ‘regrets’ Yemen bus strike, JIAT says those responsible should be accountable

JIAT said an airstrike by the Arab Coalition last month that killed dozens of people traveling on a bus lacked military justification and requires a review of the rules of engagement (Screengrab)
Updated 02 September 2018
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Coalition ‘regrets’ Yemen bus strike, JIAT says those responsible should be accountable

  • Coalition statement describes bus strike as a ‘mistake’
  • JIAT says coalition should review rules of engagement to ensure compliance

RIYADH: An airstrike by the Arab Coalition to Restore the Legitimacy in Yemen last month that killed dozens of people traveling on a bus, lacked military justification and requires a review of the rules of engagement, a coalition body said on Saturday.
Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour, legal adviser to the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT), said the strike had been based on intelligence indicating that the bus was carrying Houthi leaders, a legitimate military target, but delays in executing the strike and receiving a no-strike order should be investigated.

“There was a clear delay in preparing the fighter jet at the appropriate time and place, thus losing (the opportunity) to target this bus as a military target in an open area in order to avoid such collateral damage,” Al-Mansour told reporters in the Saudi capital.
“The team believes that the coalition forces should immediately review the application of their rules of engagement to ensure compliance...” he said.
The Joint Forces Command of the Arab Coalition on Saturday reviewed JIAT’s findings regarding the allegations surrounding the operation carried out by coalition forces in the Saada governorate.
The International Committee for the Red Cross said at least 29 children were killed and dozens more injured when the bus was hit in Dahyan area in Saada province on Aug 9 .
The conclusions of JIAT’s investigation indicated that the raid on Dahyan area did not comply with the coalition’s rules of engagement.
As a result the coalition’s Joint Forces Command expressed regret over the mistakes and extends its deepest sympathies, condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims, saying its accepts the JIAT’s results and findings.
Upon receiving the official findings, the Joint Forces Command will undertake legal proceedings to hold those responsible and accountable for committing mistakes, according to the rules and regulations related to such cases.
The coalition said it will “continue to revise and enhance its rules of engagement, based on the operational lessons learned, in a manner that guarantees the non-recurrence of such incidents.”
The Joint Forces Command said it will also task the Joint Committee to grant voluntary assistance to the families affected in Yemen, and communicate with the legitimate Yemeni government to acquire their names and identities so compensations can be provided under regulatory measures.
The Joint Forces Command reaffirmed its continued commitment to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), its customary rules and relevant conventions. It pledged to continue “applying the rules of engagement in accordance with
the highest international standards and practices, which will guarantee respect of the law and the preservation of civilian lives and possessions.”
During the press conference, Al-Mansour said that “an order had been given not to target the bus, which was among civilians, but the order arrived late.”

Another error was that “the target did not pose an immediate threat and that targeting the bus in a residential area was unjustified at that time,” he said.
The JIAT’s investigation into the attack on the bus examined the flights on the day and video footage of the aircraft that carried out the raid, he added.

Mansour repeated on Saturday that information from intelligence services suggested the bus had been “transporting Houthi leaders.” 
But Mansour admitted the strike had “caused collateral damage.”

He also recommended that the coalition hold those responsible for the error accountable and compensate victims.
He said a coalition probe had found that errors were made before the strike, and called for those responsible to be “punished.”


Israel strikes Hamas post after gunfire at troops

Updated 17 min 49 sec ago
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Israel strikes Hamas post after gunfire at troops

  • An informal truce between Hamas and Israel has brought relative calm to the border in recent weeks
  • Hamas is labelled a terrorist organization by the US and the EU, and banks are hesitant to make the transfer

GAZA CITY, Palestinian territories: An Israeli tank shelled a Hamas site in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday after gunfire at soldiers near the border fence, the army said.
There were no reports of injuries in either incident. Hamas said two of its military wing’s observation posts had been hit east of Beit Hanoun.
An informal truce between Hamas and Israel has brought relative calm to the border in recent weeks.
But there have been warnings of another escalation since Israel reportedly held up the latest cash transfer from Gulf state Qatar to Gaza, set to take place under the truce.
The payments are controversial in Israel, where they have sparked opposition from right-wing activists and politicians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for re-election in April 9 polls.
Qatar’s ambassador to Gaza said Monday that the $15 million (13 million euros) in cash, to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in the enclave, is expected to be delivered via Israel this week.
Israel’s government has not commented. Its permission is required since the cash must be delivered via Israeli territory.
Hamas is labelled a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, and banks are hesitant to make the transfer.
The payment would be the third of six planned tranches, totalling $90 million, in connection with the truce.
Israel has also allowed deliveries of Qatari-financed fuel to the blockaded enclave to help ease a severe electricity shortage.
Mass protests and clashes erupted on the Gaza-Israel border in March last year.
The weekly protests have been calling for Palestinian refugees in Gaza to be able to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.
At least 243 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March, the majority during protests and clashes. Others have died in airstrikes or shelling.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during a botched special forces operation inside Gaza.
Israel and Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, have fought three wars since 2008.