IDF Puts Together Team to Deflect War-crime Allegations

Legal work is being done ahead of possible international investigations like those that followed the 2009 Gaza offensive and the Mavi Marmara incident.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Protesting in Santiago against Israel's military campaign in Gaza, Chile, August 2, 2014.Credit: AFP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces has established a team to collect evidence on the fighting with Hamas in Gaza in case the army is accused of war crimes. The IDF reiterated yesterday that Hamas had committed crimes, not Israel.

The team, headed by the chief of the IDF’s Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen. Nimrod Sheffer, includes officials from the Military Advocate General’s Office, Southern Command, the Gaza Division and the air force.

The team will collect evidence about Palestinian civilians used as human shields, particularly video documentation by the air force. The officials note a number of events in which Palestinian civilians have been harmed and it is not clear who was responsible. This includes firing on the Shati refugee camp and Shifa Hospital, a military source said.

The IDF also intends to discuss the air force’s target planning, which includes calculations of possible damage to surrounding buildings and sites during an air strike.

The daily Israel Hayom, which first reported on the establishment of the team Friday, said officials from government ministries would also be on board, including the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

Legal work is being done ahead of possible international investigations like the ones that followed Israel’s January 2009 ground offensive in Gaza and the 2010 commando raid on the Gaza-bound ship the Mavi Marmara. The new team will also present findings on the conduct of Hamas during the fighting in Gaza over the past three and a half weeks.

Sheffer’s work will run simultaneously with probes coordinated by Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon, who is heading a General Staff panel tasked with clarifying cases in which the IDF harmed noncombatants.

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