State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Tuesday announced that he is bringing in three outside experts to help him evaluate the IDF’s compliance with international law during last summer’s Gaza war.
The three experts are Prof. Michael Newton, Prof. Moshe Halbertal and Prof. Miguel Deutsch.
Bringing in experts from outside the comptroller’s office conformed to the international law principle of proper oversight of a country’s war crimes investigations, the comptroller said.
Newton is a professor at Vanderbilt University, edits a top Oxford international law publication and has been involved in international court proceedings on war. Halbertal is a professor at New York University and an author of the IDF’s code of ethics.
Deutsch was a member of the Turkel Commission that, among other things, published a report in February 2013 about the compliance with international law of Israel’s apparatus for investigating alleged war crimes.
Shapira announced on August 13, before the Gaza war was over and days after the UN announced that William Schabas would lead an inquiry into alleged war crimes, that he would investigate the same issues – though his inquiry is also broader in some senses.
There are allegations that the IDF killed more than 2,000 Palestinians during the war, of whom 50-80 percent were civilians.
“In light of the allegations that have been raised, that Israel breached international law and has not examined IDF action according to international law, the state comptroller has decided to investigate military and political decision-making during Operation Protective Edge,” Shapira said at the time.
The comptroller’s inquiry was originally set to focus on whether and to what extent the state and the cabinet had been properly prepared by the IDF and the prime minister for the full challenge posed by Hamas’s tunnels.
The tunnels issue has been hot, with political and security officials trading on- and off-record attacks over who was responsible for the IDF not being fully prepared for the challenge, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s famous “three days to destroy the tunnels” dragging on for weeks.
Part of the criticism builds on an alarm that an earlier, 2007, comptroller report sounded on the tunnels issue.
Shapira’s inquiry will analyze this issue and will look at broader war strategy decisions by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other key players.
The investigation will also cover the IDF Home Front Command’s actions before and during the war.
These actions affected the availability of bomb shelters, the effectiveness of the Color Red rocket alert siren system, the options available to those under fire, and the country’s public relations.