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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

IDF indicts soldiers over Cast Lead

The IDF has just come out with a press release:

The IDF Military Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, has decided to take legal action regarding a number of incidents that occurred during Operation Cast Lead, following his examination of the findings from the investigations carried out through a number of different channels.

The Military Advocate General has decided to indict a number of officers and soldiers for their conduct during the operation. In one case, an IDF officer at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel was summoned to a disciplinary hearing for having deviated from military directives pertaining to the prohibition on the use of civilians for operational activity. In a second case, the Military Advocate General indicted an IDF Staff Sergeant for manslaughter. In a third case, the Military Advocate General ordered a criminal investigation following his review of a field investigation in order to clarify the circumstances of a specific incident. In a fourth case, disciplinary action was taken against an IDF Captain for his failed professional judgment in authorizing an attack against a terror operative.

In accordance with the Chief of the General Staff’s commitment on the matter, an ongoing, comprehensive process of examination has been carried out within the IDF since the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, in order to study claims made by various individuals and organizations regarding IDF conduct during the operation.

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi ordered an examination of IDF conduct, and the ethical aspects thereof, in full confidence of the moral justness of the IDF, its officers and soldiers, as well as of the IDF’s ability to examine any incident, to draw the necessary conclusions, and to take legal action as necessary. More than 150 incidents have been examined and nearly 50 investigations have been launched by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division since the operation’s conclusion.
The four incidents include the Al Maqadama Mosque incident, where the IDF confirms that it targeted a terrorist outside the mosque (as we now know, he was with a number of other terrorists as well, who were hit.) Even so, the IDF says that procedures were not properly adhered to.

Similarly, indictment concerning the complaint by Majdi Abed-Rabbo that he was used as a human shield includes the interesting fact that, according to IDF soldiers at the scene, he had asked the IDF soldiers if he could go to speak to the militants inside his house in order to minimize the chances for his house next door being destroyed if there was a battle. According to IDF rules, the battalion commander should not have allowed it to happen.

There is also an indictment on an apparent case of a soldier firing on a group with a white flag as well as an air-strike on the Al Samouni residence.

These investigations are nightmarishly complex, but from reading this release one gets the impression that the IDF takes them very seriously, even as the world accuses them of whitewashing any deviations from protocol.