Landmark report on IDF Gaza war crimes allegations due out on Wednesday

The report is more than three years in the making and many parties globally, including the International Criminal Court, which is itself examining the same issues, have been awaiting its results

March 8, 2018 14:47
2 minute read.

IDF forces combat in Gaza

IDF forces combat in Gaza


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State Comptroller Joseph Shapira announced on Thursday that his bombshell report shedding light on to what extent the IDF complied with international law during the 2014 Gaza war will finally be issued on Wednesday.

It is expected to point out new details regarding the Hannibal Protocol incident – in which the most Palestinian civilians were killed – regarding which the IDF still has not issued its legal conclusions.

The report is also expected to give the first formal evaluation regarding the competence of Israel’s new legal procedures for investigating its own soldiers for alleged war crimes. These procedures were initiated following a February 2013 quasi-governmental report recommending changes, so the State Comptroller’s Report on 2014’s Operation Protective Edge will be the first take on whether the IDF’s changes were sufficient.

The report has been more than three years in the making, and many parties globally, including the UN, the International Criminal Court (ICC), human rights groups and Israel’s defense establishment have been avidly awaiting its publication.

The ICC is looking at the same issues in its preliminary examination of war crimes allegations. In February 2016, ICC officials told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview in The Hague that they would carefully review the comptroller’s conclusions in making their own decisions.

Three leading experts were to have worked on the report with the State Comptroller’s Office: Prof. Michael Newton, Prof. Miguel Deutsch and Prof. Moshe Halbertal.

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 in 2015 when the experts were appointed.

Newton is a professor at Vanderbilt University, edits a top Oxford international law publication and helped write the ICC’s founding statute.

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.

Halbertal is a professor at New York University and an author of the IDF’s code of ethics, but may not have continued as one of the report’s experts until its completion.

Shapira announced on August 13, 2014, even before the Gaza war was over and days after the UN announced its own inquiry into alleged war crimes, that he would investigate the same issues – though his inquiry is broader in some aspects.

There are allegations that the IDF killed more than 2,000 Palestinians during the war, 50-80% of whom 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.

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