IDF soldiers storm a target during the ground incursion into Gaza.
(photo credit: IDF)
The IDF is conducting three investigations into alleged illegal acts committed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, based on testimonies by the Breaking the Silence group, a senior military source said on Wednesday.
Of the seven to eight ongoing investigations into actions taken by the IDF during the conflict – investigations overseen by the Military Police’s Criminal Investigations Department – three are based on testimonies by Breaking the Silence members, the source confirmed.
“We don’t care who is lodging the complaint. If they can provide evidence, and details, we are willing to receive these from anyone. We have launched investigations based on testimonies by Palestinians.
And we have met with these [Breaking the Silence] people,” the source said.
The department is working with the military prosecution on completing the investigations.
Sources said no further details could be given on pending cases.
Most of the investigations into allegations of wrongdoing during Operation Protective Edge have been completed and sent to military prosecutions.
Of those that remain open, “One or two involve major incidents,” the source said.
He did not specify whether this included the Black Friday incident, when the IDF reacted to the kidnapping (and, it subsequently emerged, killing) of Lt. Hadar Goldin on August 1, 2014, in Gaza during a Hamas truce violation. In that incident, military forces opened artillery fire, and air strikes were deployed in Rafah after the Hamas attack, killing dozens of Palestinians.
Earlier this month, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot addressed recent controversies involving Breaking the Silence.
“The IDF acts in line with high ethical standards. There are unusual cases. If we did not act in accordance with our values, this would cause the military to break apart from the inside.”
IDF soldiers have been instructed that it is their duty to disobey illegal orders, he said. “We expect soldiers... to know in real time that this is the demand of them. And not, years after their release, to ‘break the silence,’” he said.
“Those who are released [from service] and speak after a few years – I can’t argue over the specific cases. I received complaints after Operation Protective Edge and ordered the Military Prosecution to check into the complaints of Breaking the Silence,” Eisenkot added.
Separately, according to Military Police data unveiled by sources on Wednesday, there has been a rise in the number of Palestinians caught trying to smuggle weapons across checkpoints separating the West Bank from Israel.
In 2015, checkpoint security personnel foiled 1,066 weapons smuggling attempts, compared to 941 attempts in 2014. Thirty-four lone terrorists were caught at Military Police checkpoints in 2015, compared with 11 in 2014.
A total of 34,442 Palestinians were caught trying to enter Israel illegally in 2015, compared to 19,742 the previous year.
“These soldiers at the checkpoints are the last line [of defense] that can stop a terrorist attack,” a source said.