IDF legal team gathering Gaza evidence

Exclusive: Barak orders army to set up team of experts to prepare for possible future lawsuits.

ehud barak gaza op 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
ehud barak gaza op 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the IDF to set up a team of intelligence and legal experts that will collect evidence related to IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, that could be used to defend military commanders against future lawsuits. Called an "Incrimination Team," the group of experts has already received all of the footage filmed by IDF Combat Camera teams deployed inside the Gaza Strip, to review and decipher. All footage taken by Combat Camera soldiers is first given to brigade intelligence officers who study it for intelligence information. The decision to set up the team was made as part of IDF preparations for a wave of international lawsuits related to Operation Cast Lead, which Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz warned on Sunday would be filed against soldiers following the operation. "We need to be prepared for the potential lawsuits that will be filed against senior officers," a defense official explained. "The team will review the footage and intelligence information and formulate arguments that can be used to defend against claims that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza." The footage collected by the team was filmed by regular combat soldiers who received special training on how to film and document military operations under combat conditions. The unit is part of the IDF Spokesman's Unit and is headed by Maj. Zvika Golan. The US Army works with a similar model and has a soldier in every infantry platoon armed with a camcorder alongside his machine gun. The history of the IDF's Combat Camera Unit goes back eight years to the beginning of the second intifada. While the IDF claimed Palestinian terrorists were using groups of stone-throwing children as cover, the IDF Spokesman's Office had difficulty backing up the claim without documentation of the events. Following the Second Lebanon War, the IDF decided to set up a new unit to train regular combat soldiers to film events under combat conditions, and ahead of Operation Cast Lead, the IDF succeeded in training at least one soldier in each company of the Golani, Givati and Paratroop brigades.