Defense Minister Ya’alon: No Place for Criminal Probe of Gaza War’s ‘Black Friday'

On August 1 IDF killed between 130-150 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more following the kidnapping of Lt. Hadar Goldin.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Moshe Ya'alon speaking at INSS, January 28, 2014.
Moshe Ya'alon speaking at INSS, January 28, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Thursday that there is no reason for a criminal investigation into the Gaza war’s “Black Friday” incident, in which the IDF reportedly killed 130 to 150 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more, mostly civilians, following the August 1 kidnapping of Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was later found to have been killed.

“A great many rumors and statements are circulating, for example about the incident concerning the Givati Brigade on that Friday in Rafah. That incident is not being investigated by the army’s Criminal Investigation Division. It is an operational incident during which decisions of various kinds were made, not something that is investigated with the tools of criminal law. It needs to be probed with the tools of military command so that there may be improvement next time,” Ya’alon said during an Israel Defense Forces study day.

Addressing the differences between criminal and military investigations, Ya’alon said, “A [criminal] investigation looks for people to blame. It looks at the past. There are times when this is vital: If someone, during a battle, committed a crime – for example, looting, rape or deliberately shooting a woman or a child or somebody waving a white flag — that is breaking the law, and that has a criminal aspect. That is where the Criminal Investigation Division engages in a criminal investigation.”

Among those attending the study day, held in memory of fallen Sayeret Matkal commandos Emmanuel Moreno and Oded Raor, was Simcha Goldin, father of Hadar Goldin.

All the incidents that took place in Rafah following Goldin’s kidnapping that day were examined by a fact-finding team from the General Staff headed by Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon, then handed over to the military advocate general, Maj. Gen. Dan Efroni. After the probe, Efroni is expected to decide whether the brigade’s actions that day raised any suspicion of criminal activity and, if so, to order an investigation by the IDF’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Thirteen other incidents during the fighting in Operation Protective Edge came under investigation after suspicions of criminal activity arose. The Criminal Investigation Division is probing five cases of looting, two complaints of the use of Palestinians as “human shields” in the area of Khirbet Khuza’ah, and the fatal shooting of a Palestinian woman at the Dahaniya airport after the woman’s departure had been coordinated in advance with Israeli troops.

Ya’alon said the army’s policy must be made clear to soldiers and commanders: “The fact that you fought heroically does not make you immune to being investigated to ensure that you did not commit a crime. You can be a hero and excel, but you have still committed a crime. At that point, there is no choice. Our camp must remain pure.”

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