The IDF Military Advocate General's office has been in contact with its European counterparts in an effort to persuade them to make inquiries with it about alleged war crimes before issuing arrest warrants for officers who were involved in Operation Cast Lead earlier this year.
The IDF has not made any changes to its official policy regarding officers who travel to European countries following the Goldstone Report on Cast Lead, which was published last week and recommended referring the report to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. If that happens, arrest warrants could be issued against IDF commanders.
The Military Advocate General's office has, however, asked European countries to first present questions to the IDF about specific incidents that occurred during Cast Lead before initiating legal action against IDF commanders.
This has already happened in a number of cases since the offensive and according to IDF sources, the information the Military Advocate General's office presented to the European countries succeeded in alleviating their concerns and heading off legal action.
In the next few weeks, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will convene to debate a bill that was drafted by Kadima MK Nachman Shai, according to which the state would pay all legal fees for defense officials and IDF commanders who are prosecuted for their service to the state.
"It is important to send a message that we stand behind our soldiers and will defend them with all the available resources," Shai said.
Shai, a former IDF spokesman and a member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is also working to establish a subcommittee of parliamentarians to oversee the IDF, Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry efforts to defend army officers and security officials overseas.
"The Goldstone Report seems to have created legitimacy to chase after us," Shai said. "We need to be sure that the people who followed orders and served this country are safe and protected."