Army to Launch Eight More Criminal Probes Over Gaza War

Of the 100 incidents from Operation Protective Edge referred to the Military Advocate General, 85 still under review, 13 investigations ordered to date.

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Bodies of Palestinians from Abu Jama'e family, who medics said were killed in an Israeli air strike that destroyed their house, Khan Younis, Gaza Strip July 21, 2014.
Bodies of Palestinians from Abu Jama'e family, who medics said were killed in an Israeli air strike that destroyed their house, Khan Younis, Gaza Strip July 21, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Israel's Military Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, has ordered eight new investigations by the Israel Defense Forces into "exceptional incidents" that occurred in connection to Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this summer.

These probes are in addition to five criminal investigations that were initiated in September to pursue allegations of conduct in violation of international law in the course of military operations in the Gaza Strip.

The 50-day hostilities between Israel and Hamas killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis.

On Saturday night the IDF Spokesperson issued a 19-page statement announcing the new investigations as well as the decision to close other investigations.

Some 100 incidents from the war this summer have been referred to the Military Advocate General so far. Of these, around 85 are currently under various stages of review, the IDF said in its statement.

The following incidents are among the incidents to be investigated, according to last night's announcement:

The IDF air strike on the home of the Abu Jama family in Khan Yunis on July 20, in which 27 Palestinians were killed. According to an initial examination by B'Tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 19 minors died in the attack, including one 4-month-old infant, as well as two pregnant women.

Also killed in the strike was a Hamas militant named Ahmed Sahmoud, the presumed target of the strike. According to media reports after the incident, no advance warning was given of the impending strike, in violation of army policy and practice during Operation Protective Edge. In its announcement of the investigation, the IDF said, "The factual findings and materials collated by the Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism and presented to the MAG, indicated the existence of grounds for a reasonable suspicion that the incident involved a deviation from the rules and procedures applicable to IDF forces. As a result, the MAG has ordered a criminal investigation into the incident."

Two alleged incidents, both on July 25 and in the same area, each involving the death of an ambulance driver. The first incident allegedly occurred near Beit Hanun at around 5:30 P.M., while the second was at around 11:45 P.M. in the vicinity of Khan Yunis. About the first incident the IDF cited the same reasons as in the strike on the Abu Jama home for its decision to investigate the incident. With regard to the second incident, the IDF said, "The findings and the material collated by the FFAM did not provide sufficient information as to the allegations arising from the reports and the NGO's claims. As a result, the MAG has ordered a criminal investigation into the incident."

Another investigation is to focus on allegations, in a complaint submitted by a nongovernmental organization, that on July 29, Israeli forces fired at and killed a man identified as Mohammed Tawfik Mohammed Kadiach while he was carrying a white flag, and that the IDF used members of Kadiach's family as "human shield."

In September an investigation was opened into allegations that a 17-year-old Palestinian was used as a human shield after he was arrested by a Givati Brigade unit. The boy's allegations were published in foreign publications, including The New York Times.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in response that the new Israeli investigations were aimed at circumventing the UN inquiry. He called for "independent probes to bring Israeli war criminals to justice."

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