A Palestinian man walks atop the remains of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 10.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF prosecution on Sunday announced that it has filed its first indictments against soldiers relating to the past summer’s Gaza War.
The indictments are for theft and obstruction of justice, and they were filed last week, though they were only announced Sunday.
Two soldiers were indicted for theft of NIS 2,420 and obstruction of justice in its investigation, while a third soldier was indicted for aiding and abetting.
The theft allegedly occurred in a residence in the Shejaia neighborhood in eastern Gaza City where the soldiers were temporarily located during the war.
On March 19, the IDF released its third report on the status of over 120 investigations into incidents of allegations of war crimes during the war. The first report was released in September and the second in December.
Counting the current three indictments, 19 criminal investigations have been ordered so far, though some of the other investigations involve incidents where Palestinian civilians were killed, making the potential allegations more serious and the timeline for announcements of indictments or closing the cases longer.
There are many incidents under investigation in which multiple civilians were killed, even up to a couple dozen civilians.
The IDF has still not decided whether to criminally investigate the most famous incident, the Hannibal Protocol incident of August 1, in which between 15 and 140 civilians were killed.
All indictments, investigations and closed cases (a few-dozen incidents have already been closed) are under hyper global scrutiny as the International Criminal Court prosecutor has opened a preliminary examination to review several issues, including whether Israel’s investigations of its own soldiers are sufficient.
Its determination on that issue could be pivotal in whether the ICC ends up getting more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Although the indictments for theft are likely to get the IDF some “credit” with the ICC and its international critics for being ready to indict its soldiers, many commentators and critics have said that, absent indictments for more serious incidents involving alleged manslaughter or murder, the ICC may still get more involved.
Domestically, there has been public pressure from some IDF commanders and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to be careful about indicting soldiers for alleged crimes that could be perceived as interfering with their ability to defend the state.