Cast Lead criminal probe still open 3 yrs on

Col. Ilan Malka allegedly ordered an air-strike on a building he knew was occupied by civilians.

December 5, 2011 06:51
2 minute read.

Col. Ilan Malka 311. (photo credit: IDF )


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Three years after Operation Cast Lead, one last criminal investigation remains open against former Givati Brigade commander Col. Ilan Malka, whose military career is still engulfed in controversy and overshadowed by criminal allegations after the Military Advocate General’s Office continues to drag its feet in ruling on the case.

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Malka served as commander of the Givati Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, which was launched on December 27, 2008.

Former military advocate general (MAG) Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit – who retired earlier this year – decided to launch a criminal investigation against Malka in early 2010 over allegations that he ordered an airstrike on a building in Gaza despite allegedly knowing that it was occupied by civilians.

The bombing under question took place on January 5, 2009, during the ground offensive stage of the threeweek operation. Malka was operating in northern Gaza and called in an airstrike of a home in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood. The Air Force bombed the building resulting in the deaths of 21 members of the Samouni family.

The case was highlighted in the Goldstone Report which investigated alleged Israeli war crimes during the operation and Mandelblit decided to launch a Military Police investigation almost two years ago to rule out the possibility that Malka ordered the strike while knowing that civilians were inside the home.

Due to the investigation, Malka’s promotion was put on hold and h e has served as chief operations officer for the Central Command since. Other IDF officers who commanded brigades during the operation – such as then- Paratrooper’s Brigade commander Hertzi Halevy and then-commander of the 401st Armored Brigade Yigal Slovik – have since been promoted to the rank of brigadier-general.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office did not release an official response to inquiries from The Jerusalem Post about the status of the investigation against Malka.

Sources said that it was in its “final stages” and would be completed in the near future with a decision by Mandelblit’s replacement Brig.-Gen.

Dani Efroni on whether charges will be brought against Malka.

Senior field commanders were critical of the MAG’s office which they said was “dragging its feet” in concluding the investigation and enabling Malka to continue his career in the IDF.

“Two years is a long time for an investigation,” one senior IDF officer who is familiar with the case said recently. “If the MAG plans to press charges then he should do that now and if not, then Malka should be cleared of wrongdoing.”

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