Government likely to review IDF's Cast Lead probe

Govt likely to review I

Israel is seriously weighing the establishment of a judicial investigative panel that will review the internal IDF investigations of alleged wrongdoings during last winter's Gaza offensive, and determine whether those investigations - some of which are still ongoing - were sufficiently thorough, government sources said on Monday. While the exact parameters of the panel have not been set, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman was expected to select the head of the committee, after consultation with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the sources said. One name that has been mentioned as a candidate to head that panel is former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. Justice Ministry officials would not discuss the matter, but Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has come out in favor of an external investigative body to look into alleged wrongdoing during the Gaza operation. The establishment of the committee to review the IDF investigations into alleged acts of wrongdoing, some of which were mentioned in the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast Lead, is expected to help deflect the war criminal charges found in the Goldstone Report. It would also fulfill Israel's part of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for "credible domestic investigations" by both Israel and Hamas of charges of war crimes leveled in the report. More importantly, the officials said, an independent review would do away with the possibility of prosecution for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. The Prime Minister's Office in late October announced the establishment of a committee to consider various ways to deal with the allegations in the Goldstone Report, even while reiterating that IDF officers and soldiers would not be questioned. The committee was made up of Mazuz; IDF Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit; the Foreign Ministry's legal adviser Ehud Kenan; the Defense Ministry's legal adviser Ahaz Ben- Ari; and cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been adamantly opposed to any committee that will have the power to probe IDF soldiers or officers. Barak's office said on Monday that his position has not changed.