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KILLER ACTED ALONE IN HEBRON MASSACRE, PANEL SAYS

SHARE KILLER ACTED ALONE IN HEBRON MASSACRE, PANEL SAYS

An inquiry commission found that Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein acted alone when he killed Muslim worshipers in February's Hebron mosque massacre, Israeli dailies reported Friday.

Testimony by Palestinian witnesses and some Israeli army guards had suggested that there was a second gunman or that Goldstein had an accomplice in the Feb. 25 bloodbath at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Thirty Muslim worshippers died and scores were wounded at a site sacred to Muslims and Jews before the crowd killed Goldstein.The five-member commission of three judges, a professor and a retired general is to publish its findings Sunday, but the contents of the report have already been leaked extensively.

The commission is not seeking criminal indictments, but criticized senior army officers for ignoring intelligence warnings about possible violence by Jewish extremists against Palestinians, the Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz newspapers said.

The commission also found that law enforcement against Jewish settlers in the occupied lands has been too lax, the dailies said.

In six weeks of hearings, the commission was told that soldiers were under orders not to open fire on settlers, even if they were shooting at others. Complaints by Muslim worshipers about settler provocations at the Tomb, such as throwing acid on prayer carpets, were rarely followed up by police, witnesses said.

In other findings, the commission said soldiers did not fire on worshipers fleeing the massacre site and did not intentionally block the evacuation of wounded.

Palestinian witnesses have said army guards fired into the crowd of panicked worshipers to keep them at bay, and that soldiers also held up the rescue of wounded.