IDF soilder prepares for battle.
(photo credit: IDF)
Speaking at Shurat Hadin’s conference on “Towards a New Law of War” yesterday in Jerusalem, the prime minister’s cabinet secretary, Avichai Mandelblit, said that while the state had implemented many of the Turkel Commission’s recommendations, he rejected its recommendation to set a maximum time for decisions on whether to indict IDF personnel for alleged war crimes.
Recommendation 10 of the Turkel Commission’s second report focusing on how much Israel’s investigations of itself comply with international law (generally it found that they did comply) said the IDF should set a time limit for closing cases or indicting soldiers for alleged war crimes.
The background to the recommendation included having better practices in general and answering critics, possibly including the International Criminal Court, on past and present accusations that the IDF drags out investigations and decisions about indictments until cases have dropped from the headlines.
In rejecting the maximum time limit for indictment decisions, Mandelblit explained that the IDF tries its utmost to make fast decisions but that war crimes investigations are the most complex and time consuming of any type of investigation.
As one example, he pointed out that with conventional crimes it is clearer who the suspect is or might be, whereas in the fog of war and with many soldiers operating in enemy territory it is much less clear.
Mandelblit also was asked about recent IDF commanders’ statements to the press about the Hannibal Protocol incident, which seemed to undermine the IDF legal division’s independence.
He said the IDF legal division is as independent as ever and is accepted by IDF commanders.