Israel opens new investigations into Gaza war

Eight new probes ordered into Palestinian casualties during 50-day war, amid concerns over their effectiveness.

Eighty-five legal examinations launched by the Israeli army are currently under various stages of review [Reuters]

The Israeli military has ordered eight new criminal investigations into cases involving Palestinian civilian casualties in this summer’s Gaza war, a move that is seen as another attempt to head off international probe into the case.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed during the 50-day conflict, according to Palestinian and UN estimates.

While Israel is accused of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructures, Tel Aviv says the number of civilians killed was much lower than reported and accuses Hamas, the group ruling the strip, of using them as human shields.

On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians died. 

“While we’re all pleased about this development, we can’t really expect that these investigations will be effective,” Emily Omer-Man, legal director of the Yesh Din Security Forces Accountability Project, told Al Jazeera from Tel Aviv.

“Previous investigations carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces have really fallen short of international standards of investigating,” Omer-Man said, adding that two key elements are independence and impartiality.

She added that Israel’s penal code has no room for holding commanders accountable, which means higher ranks are never investigated or indicted.

Israel has referred about 100 cases to legal examination and 85 of them are currently under various stages of review.

“During and in the aftermath of the operation, the Military Advocate General received complaints regarding alleged incidents on behalf of Palestinian residents or by non-governmental organisations, Israeli, Palestinian and international,” Major General Danny Efroni said in a statement from the Israeli army.

Omer-Man told Al Jazeera that there had been a drop in the rate of indictments of Israeli soldiers to 2 percent from a previous 5 percent, which she attributed to lack of proper investigating, including not visiting crime scenes, lack of forensics or not conducting questioning of witnesses or others. 

Israel’s military advocate general says a professional fact-finding mechanism has helped decide which cases to investigate.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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