'IDF conducted probes - Hamas did nothing'

Analysis: There is no question regarding the quantity of the IDF probe into Cast Lead.

January 26, 2010 02:47
2 minute read.
'IDF conducted probes - Hamas did nothing'

Goldstone in Gaza 248.88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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While the quality of internal IDF probes can be debated, there is no question regarding the quantity of the investment the Israeli military has made in investigating last winter's Operation Cast Lead. Hamas, on the other hand, while it has promised to conduct its own internal investigation, has so far done nothing.

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In April, 2009, the IDF released the findings from five major probes into the operation. While some found operational mishaps, no evidence was found to back up allegations of intentional attacks on innocent Palestinians.

The probes focused on complaints that troops intentionally targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including United Nations facilities. Another investigation examined the IDF's use of phosphorus munitions during the operation.

Since then, the IDF increased the span of its probes, and as of last month was in the midst of 30 criminal investigations based on testimonies of Palestinians who met with Military Police investigators at the Erez Crossing. Another 130 incidents were also under review by the Military Advocate General's Office.

According to a senior IDF officer, many of these probes have been completed, and the military has yet to discover evidence to support claims of intentional killing of civilians or mass looting.

In addition, the IDF has announced it will increase the participation of legal advisers in operation-planning forums and will likely use additional means to warn civilians to flee their homes before attacking.

Hamas has conducted no investigation of any kind, and has given no indication it intends to change its doctrine of using civilian infrastructure to wage war.

As a result, no matter what changes are made by the IDF, in any future conflict the outcome will likely not be much different than it was in Gaza last winter. As long as Hamas continues to fire rockets from schoolyards and store its weapons in mosques and people's homes, the IDF will have no choice but to venture into the built-up areas where the risk of collateral damage is statistically greater.

As reported in Monday's Jerusalem Post, both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi support the establishment of a judicial investigative panel to review internal IDF investigations of alleged wrongdoing. This would not be an inquiry commission like after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, but would be led by world-renowned jurists who would review the probes and issue an opinion on their integrity, significance and relevance.

While such an offer might not fulfill Israel's part of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for "credible domestic investigations," the thinking within Israel is that if the Goldstone Report is brought before the General Assembly (GA), it may influence many countries to vote against any initiative to sanction Israel.

For Israel, a GA vote on the Goldstone Report comes down to the quality of the countries and not the quantity. From an Israeli perspective, even if there is a majority in favor of sanctioning Israel, if the US together with most of Europe, Asia and South America vote against, even while Africa and Arab nations vote in favor, it would view this as a sign of support due to the quality of its supporters

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