Goldstone in Gaza 248.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
While the quality of internal IDF probes can be
debated, there is no question regarding the quantity of the investment
the Israeli military has made in investigating last winter's Operation
Cast Lead. Hamas, on the other hand, while it has promised to conduct
its own internal investigation, has so far done nothing.
April, 2009, the IDF released the findings from five major probes into
the operation. While some found operational mishaps, no evidence was
found to back up allegations of intentional attacks on innocent
The probes focused on complaints that troops intentionally
targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including United
Nations facilities. Another investigation examined the IDF's use of
phosphorus munitions during the operation.
Since then, the IDF increased the span of its probes, and as of
last month was in the midst of 30 criminal investigations based on
testimonies of Palestinians who met with Military Police investigators
at the Erez Crossing. Another 130 incidents were also under review by
the Military Advocate General's Office.
According to a senior IDF officer, many of these
probes have been completed, and the military has yet to discover
evidence to support claims of intentional killing of civilians or mass
In addition, the IDF has announced it will increase the
participation of legal advisers in operation-planning forums and will
likely use additional means to warn civilians to flee their homes
has conducted no investigation of any kind, and has given no indication
it intends to change its doctrine of using civilian infrastructure to
As a result, no matter what changes are made by the IDF, in any
future conflict the outcome will likely not be much different than it
was in Gaza last winter. As long as Hamas continues to fire rockets
from schoolyards and store its weapons in mosques and people's homes,
the IDF will have no choice but to venture into the built-up areas
where the risk of collateral damage is statistically greater.
As reported in Monday's Jerusalem Post
, both Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi
Ashkenazi support the establishment of a judicial investigative panel
to review internal IDF investigations of alleged wrongdoing. This would
not be an inquiry commission like after the Second Lebanon War in 2006,
but would be led by world-renowned jurists who would review the probes
and issue an opinion on their integrity, significance and relevance.
While such an offer might not fulfill Israel's part of UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for "credible domestic
investigations," the thinking within Israel is that if the Goldstone
Report is brought before the General Assembly (GA), it may influence
many countries to vote against any initiative to sanction Israel.
For Israel, a GA vote on the Goldstone Report comes down to the
quality of the countries and not the quantity. From an Israeli
perspective, even if there is a majority in favor of sanctioning
Israel, if the US together with most of Europe, Asia and South America
vote against, even while Africa and Arab nations vote in favor, it
would view this as a sign of support due to the quality of its