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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IDF opening criminal probes into conduct of Operation Protective Edge

The IDF is opening two criminal probes into the conduct of Operation Protective Edge.
The first investigation will examine events surrounding the military strike on a Gaza beach on July 16, in which four Palestinian kids were killed.

The second will look into the circumstances around an IDF strike on an UNRWA school in Gaza on July 24, in which 14 Palestinians were killed.

Additionally, since the end of hostilities in Gaza, Efroni has ordered immediate in-depth investigations into three cases. The first involved suspected looting by soldiers, the second investigation is examining how a woman who coordinated an exit from her home in Gaza was nevertheless shot and killed, and a third is looking at claims that a 17-year-old Gazan youth was taken into custody and held for five days, during which, according to his claim, he was moved from place to place by soldiers and beaten.

In recent weeks, the Military Prosecutor's office has closed several cases related to the war, after concluding that no criminal wrong doing occurred. An officer in the prosecutor's office decided not to open an investigation into a strike on a journalist in Gaza after it was discovered that he was a terror operative, suspected of carrying a missile in his vehicle.

Another case that was closed involved an air strike on a home following the evacuation of the Kaware family from it on July 8.

Family members left the home after a small unarmed bomb was dropped on its home, but then ran back into the house after a second, armed missile was already fired at the target. Eight members of the family were killed in the strike. "There is no suspicion that international law was violated here," the sources said on Wednesday.

...

The teams are currently looking at 44 incidents from the war. Of those, two have resulted in criminal investigations so far, 12 are being examined, seven have been closed, and three are pending, army sources added.
As if that biased UN Commission chaired by William Schabes is going to give us a break for acting properly....
In a written petition to have Schabas recused filed on Sept. 4, UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO, showcased a July 17 BBC interview in which Schabas presumed Israel guilty. Although at the time of that interview there had been no ground offensive, Schabas declared “prima facie there is evidence of disproportionality” by Israel sufficient to declare the air strikes unjustified because “there are a huge number of civilian casualties on one side and virtually no civilian casualties on the other.” The BBC interview is damning evidence sufficiently questioning Schabas’ impartiality under a longstanding due process principle that judges or investigators “should be, and should be seen to be, free of commitment to a preconceived outcome.”
Also on Sept. 4, Schabas championed his commission’s adjudicatory relevance in a CNN interview, stating: “the International Criminal Court is sitting in the wings,” and the commission will likely “provide materials that would go to the prosecutor of the ICC and so that’s a pretty big stick if we come to the conclusion that there were war crimes.” The Palestinians recently disclosed plans to join the ICC, which might be considered encouraging news to Schabas, who has repeatedly promoted prosecuting Palestinian claims against Israel at the ICC. Schabas’ admission to CNN that his commission aims to assist any ICC prosecution lends greater significance to a 2012 address he delivered to the Russell Tribunal, a London-based pro-Palestinian NGO that even Judge Richard Goldstone [the author of a controversial UN report on Israeli actions during the last Gaza war] discredited as “one sided.” Schabas quipped in that speech: “My favorite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court.”
The BBC and CNN interviews confirm that Schabas should be disqualified either for actual bias or the appearance of bias. As UN Watch argues, the BBC interview demonstrates “commitment to a preconceived outcome” of “Israeli guilt for war crimes” that “constitutes an overt case of actual bias on the very question that the [UN commission] members are meant to impartially assess.”  These circumstances distinguish Schabas’ case from that of Nabil Elaraby, current head of the Arab League, who was part of the 2004 judicial panel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that issued an advisory opinion on “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Territory.” The ICJ refused to disqualify Elaraby notwithstanding anti-Israel sentiments he expressed in a newspaper interview prior to joining the Court. The ICJ reasoned that Elaraby “expressed no opinion on the question put in the present case” during that interview. In stark contrast, Schabas’ opinion of prima facie guilt by Israel relates directly to the very issues and events his commission is supposed to assess.
No other country in the world would be subjected to this treatment. None. 

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