Amnesty: Israel and Palestinians need to own up to war crimes

Rights group says IDF investigations ‘lack independence and impartiality’

July 8, 2016 06:36
2 minute read.
idf gaza

IDF FORCES operate inside the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)


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Two years following Operation Protective Edge, Amnesty International is disappointed with the lack of serious inquiries by both Israeli and the Palestinians, according to a report from the London-based human rights group.

The report, which came out Thursday, a day before the two-year anniversary of Protective Edge, says both sides committed war crimes, but “neither side has held anyone to account, nor conducted genuine, independent criminal investigations.”

Most notably, Amnesty International condemns Israel’s system of investigation, saying it “lacks independence and impartiality.”

The report notes that the military advocate-general is the main decision-maker for investigations, but also oversees legal advice to Israeli forces – while these two jobs should be independent of each other.

“It serves to shield perpetrators from prosecution and entrench impunity,” the report said, adding that “the investigatory system is not prompt, transparent or effective.”

The group echoed throughout the reports its desire for Israel to provide more information concerning its process of investigation into the open and closed cases from Protective Edge.

In June 2015 there were 20 open criminal investigations, plus two that had been closed without any charges or disciplinary proceedings.

Meanwhile, during Protective Edge a Fact Finding Assessments Mechanism was established to look into “exceptional incidents.” The report notes that 190 incidents were referred to the military advocate-general and 105 of them were closed.

Most of them did not result in a decision to open a criminal investigation. In a May 2016 UN Committee Against Torture meeting, Israeli officials said that FFAM opened 225 cases and eight were criminal investigations.

Two years after the war, three Israeli soldiers have been charged with war criminal offenses, for looting and obstructing an investigation.

“Against the backdrop of hundreds of serious violations, including war crimes, documented by human rights groups, these charges are negligible and go nowhere near the heart of the problem,” the report said.

Amnesty International would like to see the February 2013 Turkel Commission recommendations implemented in full, at the least. Of the 18 recommendations, “legislation incorporating all war crimes not covered in existing Israeli law and imposing criminal liability on military commanders and civilian superiors,” are highlighted by the report.

The pursuit of justice of the proposed war crimes by the Israelis is granted “dim prospects” by Amnesty International.

The report also slams the military advocate- general G for closing the investigation on the death of four boys playing at the Gaza City beach. The military advocate-general cited that the attack resulted from information that Palestinian military operatives were expected.

The report takes some time to also condone Hamas and Palestinian sides for their part in the warfare.

“Hamas forces implemented brutal attacks inside the Strip, abducting, torturing and unlawfully killing Palestinians, many of them accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel,” the report said.

Amnesty International recommends for Hamas Authorities in Gaza to “denounce summary killings and extrajudicial executions, as well as attacks targeting civilians and indiscriminate attacks.”

Similar to suggestions to the Israeli government, the report recommends, briefly, to the Palestinian government to “ensure genuine, independent criminal investigations are conducted into war crimes... and that those responsible are prosecuted in fair proceedings without recourse to the death penalty.”

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