Recent calls for Israel to launch its own investigation into the events of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza have been deflated by firm opposition from Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the defense establishment.
Barak's stance, and that of the military, is based on several factors, the most central of which is the view that an Israeli investigation would be seen as a vote of no-confidence in the IDF.
Defense sources point out that the IDF launched its own investigations into hundreds of allegations made by Palestinian and international organizations of war crimes and other transgressions during the winter Gaza war, and published its conclusions.
A new investigation would suggest that the government does not trust the army, defense chiefs believe.
Additionally, the defense establishment believes it would be impossible for anyone to launch an in-depth investigation into the war, because the full extent of Hamas's role during the conflict, and its tactics of converting civilian neighborhoods into battle zones, would be inaccessible to any investigator.
Security sources point out that Judge Richard Goldstone was unable to launch a serious investigation of the Palestinian side of the war, noting that he stayed in a Hamas-owned hotel during his stay in Gaza, and was "briefed" by Gazans who had been carefully instructed by Hamas on how to relay the official Hamas version of events.
Goldstone was left speaking to a few Gazan civilians who toed the line of their regime, and was forced to take them at their word, a security source added, noting that Goldstone's methodology rendered his findings largely meaningless.
A third factor blocking an Israeli commission of inquiry is the fact that much of information that would be relevant to an investigation comes from classified intelligence sources.
When Israel released its casualty count of Palestinians killed during the conflict, and divided the casualties between combatants and civilians, intelligence sources in Gaza were used to collect the figures. Revealing those sources would endanger their lives.
The defense establishment is, however, open to the idea of assembling a team of Israeli jurists to examine the question of whether the IDF's investigations into allegations following Cast Lead would stand up to international legal scrutiny, to prepare for the possibility that the International Criminal Court opts to indict an Israeli military figure.
Should the jurists find that an army investigation fell short of international legal requirements, follow-up investigations could be carried out to augment the initial findings.