A Palestinian looks out from the remains of his house in Beit Hanun, a town in the northern Gaza Strip..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF has ordered a number of soldiers to report for a hearing due to suspicion that they looted a Palestinian home during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.
If the hearings lead to indictments, they would be the first relating to the war and, more importantly, the first indictments since the International Criminal Court announced a preliminary probe of Gaza war crimes allegations.
Some top legal experts have said that one chance the IDF may have of avoiding ICC indictments, as opposed to the preliminary probe, is to file its own indictments.
An army spokeswoman said that following the hearing, the military prosecution would reach a decision on how to proceed.
The soldiers, from the Golani infantry brigade, came under a Military Police investigation, which began with one soldier, but then expanded to include two additional troops.
Military Police has sent its case material over to army prosecutors, who will make the final decision on whether to file charges. Investigations into looting were first announced in September relating to incidents around Khan Yunis and Hazia.
By December, Military Advocate- General Maj.-Gen. Dani Efroni had already opened 13 criminal investigations into IDF actions in the Gaza war. Of the 13 incidents being criminally investigated, the IDF has revealed details regarding 10 of the cases.
One case involves an IDF air strike on the residence of the Abu Jama family on July 20, killing 27 Palestinians.
Two more incidents under investigation involved the killing of two different ambulance drivers on July 25.
Another investigation was the killing of Mahmoud Tawfik Mahmoud Kadiach by an IDF soldier while he was holding up a white flag in the Hazia area, with some controversy as to whether the incident occurred on July 25 or 29.
The same investigation is also looking into the same IDF unit’s use of a member of Kadiach’s family as a human shield.
Other incidents being investigated include one in which four Palestinian minors were killed on a Gaza beach on July 16 and an IDF strike on an UNRWA school in Gaza on July 24, in which 14 Palestinians were killed.
Separately, the IDF has disclosed its closing of certain investigations, such as regarding a July 29 strike on an UNSCO office, which it said was intentionally caused by a solar flare.
Another major incident that was closed was multiple IDF strikes on the Al-Wafa Hospital between July 11-23, which it said were justified due to Hamas’s use of the building and the absence of civilians.
In two other related incidents, the IDF closed an initial probe into striking part of Shifa Hospital and Shati park in Gaza City on July 28, killing 10 Palestinians, finding that the IDF did not strike the area and that it was caused by rocket fire from Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
Next, the IDF closed the probe into an attack on a disabled care center that killed two Palestinians and injured four, finding that the target was a different part of the building hiding Hamas munitions and the soldiers thought the building was empty.
Decisions on whether to investigate a number of other notable incidents are still outstanding.