Israel is examining ways of protecting IDF officers and soldiers from legal action that may be taken against them abroad because of their activities in the Gaza Strip, military sources told Haaretz Wednesday.
Last November, a list of some 200 Israeli "war criminals" was published on the Internet, consisting of IDF officers and soldiers who had taken part in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip some two years earlier.
The list, apparently compiled by foreign leftist activists who were assisted by Israelis, included in some cases the addresses of the so-called "war criminals." Officers and soldiers who had been mentioned in the media or even on Facebook as having taken part in the operation were put on the list, which consisted of brigadier generals, brigadiers, sergeants and corporals who had taken part in training the forces.
Near the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, when foreign leftist organizations first threatened to "blacklist" officers and act against them abroad, the military censor restricted the publication of names and pictures of battalion commanders who had taken part in the operation.
Now, following the publication of the latest list, the IDF's concern has intensified, and it has set up a team in General Staff Headquarters to prevent legal suits and other actions that could be taken abroad against Israeli soldiers and officers. The team is apparently also looking into ways of preventing action from being taken in the future against those involved in warfare in civilian surroundings, either in the territories or in South Lebanon.
The team consists of representatives of the military prosecution, the military censor's office, information security, intelligence and the IDF spokesman's office.
Among the ideas raised by the intelligence and information-security officials on the team was imposing a total ban on publishing names of officers ranking from company to brigade commanders. But this idea was opposed by IDF officers who said it could lessen the motivation of prospective soldiers to serve in combat units. The officers said it would be difficult to maintain this motivation to join combat units without publishing the field commanders' statements in the media.
The team has met only once so far and has not drafted any recommendations yet.
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