Israeli Army Sets Up New Unit to Fight Legal Onslaught Over Gaza War

Military expects post-Gaza op struggles in court, rather than battlefield.

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Palestinians inspect the damage of a Rafah commercial center after an Israeli strike, August 24, 2014. Now the IDF is bracing for legal challenges.
Palestinians inspect the damage of a Rafah commercial center after an Israeli strike, August 24, 2014. Now the IDF is bracing for legal challenges.Credit: AP

The recent war in Gaza has spurred a decision to expand the Military Advocate General’s Corps to deal with the legal battles expected to follow this war.

Inter alia, a new unit will be set up under the auspices of the corps’ international law department, while other units in this department will receive extra staff. The military defender’s office will get an extra officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, apparently to help it defend soldiers accused of crimes during the fighting, while the operational affairs division will get two extra officers with the rank of major.

The extra staff is expected to cost the Israel Defense Forces about 500,000 shekels a year ($140,000).

Military Advocate General Danny Efroni said recently that dealing with the war’s legal aftermath will likely take many months. “I won’t be exaggerating if I say that dealing with what we expect to face in this battle – from the inquiry commission already established and from legal actors here and abroad that seek to accuse the State of Israel, the IDF and its soldiers of war crimes – will have a not inconsiderable influence on Israel’s situation and status,” he told an Israel Bar Association conference last week.

The IDF is investigating dozens of incidents that occurred during the fighting, including the IDF’s conduct in the town of Rafah after Lt. Hadar Goldin was thought to have been captured there. A panel headed by Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon has set up six different task forces to investigate these incidents. A separate panel headed by Maj. Gen. Nimrod Shefer is working to gather evidence to defend Israel against accusations of war crimes, such as video documentation of Hamas’ use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that changes are being made in various units due to the war, and they include adding several new staff positions to the Military Advocate General’s Corps.

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