Gaza Flotilla Probe to Examine IDF's Handling of Past War Crimes Charges

Investigation by Turkel Commission meant to determine if IDF soldiers would be exposed to prosecution in foreign countries according to international law.

A governmental commission that investigated the Israel Defense Forces' 2010 raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla is now probing the army's ability to investigate war crime charges levied against its own soldiers.

International law stipulates that for soldiers of one country to be prosecuted by another the country in which the war crime was committed has to be proven as unable to properly investigate the incident.

Mavi Marmara-AP- May 22, 2010

In order to legally verify that indeed the IDF has conducted a thorough investigation of soldiers accused of war crimes – a determination that would defend IDF soldiers from foreign prosecution –the Turkel Commission, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, requested military advocate general Danny Efroni to hand over information concerning 50 past cases in which IDF soldiers were accused of war crimes.

The Turkel Commission will treat these 50 cases as a sample selection for investigating the way in which the Military Advocate's office treated claims of war crimes in the past. In addition, the commission will look into the way in which those cases were treated by the military's internal affairs unit and whether or not the State Attorney's Office chose to pursue or close the case.

The Turkel Commission is expected to go over the details of the various cases, including the operational briefings held by the units themselves. Some of the files pertain to criminal investigations which arose in the wake of the IDF's raid of the Turkish aid flotilla in 2010, including instances in which soldiers were accused of stealing the personal belongings of flotilla participants.

Israel's refusal to apologize for the nine Turkish nationals killed in the wake of its raid of the Gaza-bound flotilla continued to rattle ties between the once staunch allies, as earlier Monday a Turkish public prosecutor said that the Turkish IHH organization, who was behind the 2010 flotilla, drew up a list of Israeli soldiers who were involved in the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Istanbul Deputy Public Prosecutor Ates Hasan Sozen denied reports that the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office asked the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) to identify the soldiers and prepare the list.

“No state institution had such a request, nor does it have any information on this. The prosecutor conducting the investigation has given no such order,” Sözen said told Today's Zaman, adding that the list was handed in by an IHH lawyer.

Sozen was responding to a report in the Turkish Sabah daily that claimed that MIT received a list of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who participated in the raid on the Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens. The report said that nearly all of the soldiers were identified using Facebook.

According to the earlier Sabah report, Turkish intelligence units, at the request of the prosecutor's office, launched what the report called “a commando hunt” on websites such as Facebook and Twitter, while cross-referencing using pictures taken of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the naval commando base which houses the unit which conducted the 2010 raid.

Next, the Sabah report claimed, Hebrew-speaking intelligence experts examined Facebook correspondences between soldiers suspected of taking part in the raid and their friends, with the soldiers' names confirmed by Turkish intelligence sources within Israel. A total of 174 names were identified using these methods, the report said.