Editorial |

You Can't Expect Anyone to Trust the IDF's Own Investigation of Itself

Haaretz Editorial
Journalists escort the body of Al Jazeera's Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in West Bank's Jenin refugee camp, at the hospital in Jenin, on Wednesday.
Journalists escort the body of Al Jazeera's Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in West Bank's Jenin refugee camp, at the hospital in Jenin, on Wednesday.Credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP
Haaretz Editorial

The death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh requires a genuine, comprehensive investigation, with no cover-ups, that shows the world what really happened in the alleys of Jenin Wednesday. For the truth to come to light, we need to ensure that independent, credible and respected investigators thoroughly probe this tragic incident. These investigators must be completely detached from the combat forces, given the questions surrounding their conduct in Jenin and the possibility that they shot Abu Akleh.

But even at this stage it can be asked whether the Israel Defense Forces genuinely wants the truth to come to light or prefers to take care of its own, first. Shortly after the shooting, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi announced that the IDF had set up a special task force “to get to the truth, to clarify all the facts and present them as soon as possible.” But then he said the task force would be led by none other than Col. Meni Liberty, head of the 89th “Oz” Brigade – also known as the Commando Brigade – to which the Duvdevan elite counterterrorism unit, whose soldiers may have been responsible for the fatal shooting, is subordinate.

How is it possible to expect anyone – whether Israelis, Palestinians or people from any other country – to accord any credence to an investigation led by someone interrogating his own subordinates? There is an inherent conflict of interest: The commander of the incident is the one who will determine whether his soldiers acted properly. And that’s without even mentioning the fact that Liberty is an army officer, not a trained investigator. What does he know about fields like forensic ballistics?

This appointment bolsters what Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said Thursday – that “Israel’s credibility isn’t the greatest in incidents like these; we know that.” Shai was merely telling the bitter truth: The IDF cannot be trusted to investigate itself over an incident in which it is under a heavy cloud. And it goes without saying that had the Palestinians conducted such an investigation, Israel would have scoffed at the “predetermined” results.

Clarifying the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death will require an investigation with thorough, large-scale international involvement. The “battle over the narrative” must not be allowed to defeat the battle for the truth. Israel owes itself and the world a clear, honest answer to what happened in Jenin – how and why was Shireen Abu Akleh killed?

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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