gaza tanks 224.
(photo credit: AP)
IDF Judge Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit has closed a Military Police case which dealt with two claims raised in the Goldstone Report, according to which IDF soldiers were accused of using Palestinians as human shields during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.
The complaints were initially made by the left-wing Adala NGO, which claimed that Golani soldiers moved alongside Palestinians they were holding at gunpoint. The military prosecution’s examination, where the Palestinians involved were interrogated, revealed the claims to be false.
“There is no doubt that in a military conflict it is absolutely forbidden to use people as human shields, but this was not the case here,” Mandelblit wrote in the report obtained by the radio station.
Following complaints registered before the Goldstone Report’s publication, commanders and soldiers in the Golani Brigade were interrogated for months. Abbas Halawa and Mahmoud al Agrami, two Palestinians who made the claims, said they were used as human shields and led at gunpoint in the streets of Jabalya.
They further claimed that soldiers abused detainees, took their possessions and committed other acts of vandalism. But Mandelblit wrote in his report that interrogations of both the troops and the Palestinians in question revealed the claims to be untrue. “The Palestinian who remained in their homes, despite instructions to evacuate, were arrested and led to a location about one kilometer from their homes. But they were walking among the troops, not in front of them,” he wrote. “Contrary to the Palestinians’ claims, the soldiers’ guns were not aimed at their heads, and according to the military were held in the customary position for urban warfare.”
The claims regarding vandalism were also refuted.
Mandelblit summed up his report saying, “There is no doubt that in armed conflict it is strictly forbidden to use people as human shields but this is not the case. Being escorted to a military installation does not risk the well-being of the detainees and is therefore neither a breach of the laws of war nor a war crime.”
Since the end of Cast Lead, some 140 Military Police cases have been opened and more than 80 Palestinians have been called to testify in Israel. Some of the cases are still ongoing. The IDF assesses that only a handful of indictments will eventually be served.
The military prosecutor writes a report that accompanies the closure of any Military Police investigation. The report is routinely transferred to the chief of General Staff and other General Staff top officers.