Monday, February 1, 2010

IDF Investigations of the Gaza Operation: An Update (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

IDF Investigations of the Gaza Operation: An Update (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

On January 29, 2010, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a 46-page update describing Israel's procedures for the investigation of allegations of violations of the laws of armed conflict in the Gaza operation a year ago. Israel is committed to investigating every allegation of violations, irrespective of the source of the allegation. To date, the IDF has launched investigations into 150 separate incidents. Prior to the publication of the Goldstone report, Israel was already investigating 22 of the 34 incidents it addresses. The remaining 12 incidents, none of which had previously been brought to the attention of the Israeli authorities, were promptly referred for investigation upon the report's publication.

The Military Advocate General has reviewed the entire record of certain incidents discussed in the Goldstone report and concluded that there was no basis for a criminal investigation.

The Gaza wastewater treatment plant - The wastewater treatment plant was not defined, prior to or during the operation, as a target for an aerial strike. The nearest aerial strike on the relevant dates was 1.3 km. from the plant. When Israeli armored forces passed near the plant, during the operation, the basin wall was already breached and the area surrounding it was flooded, thus limiting the movement of the forces in that area. The Military Advocate General could not dismiss the possibility that the damage might have resulted from a deliberate action by Hamas as part of a defensive plan to hamper the movement of IDF forces.

The El-Bader flour mill - The immediate area of the flour mill was used by enemy armed forces as a defensive zone, due to its proximity to Hamas' stronghold in Shati. Hamas had fortified this area with tunnels and booby-trapped houses, and deployed its forces to attack IDF troops operating there. Adjacent to the flour mill, two booby-trapped houses exploded. In the course of the fighting on Jan. 9, IDF troops came under intense fire from different Hamas positions in the vicinity of the flour mill. The Military Advocate General found that, in the specific circumstances of combat, and given its location, the flour mill was a legitimate military target in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.

The Abu-Askar house - The cellar and other parts of the residence of Muhammad Abu-Askar were used to store weapons and ammunition, including Grad rockets. Furthermore, the area where the house was located was frequently used as a launch area for rockets aimed at Israeli towns. Before the strike, the IDF made a telephone call to the house warning of an impending airstrike. The call was received by Muhammad Abu-Askar. Following this warning, all occupants immediately evacuated the premises. There were no civilian casualties from the strike. Shortly after the strike, two sons of Mr. Abu-Askar, both Hamas military operatives, were killed while launching mortars at IDF forces. The Military Advocate General concluded that due to its use as a large storage facility for weapons and ammunition, the house was a legitimate military target.

READ THE FULL DOCUMENT (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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