Powered by WebAds

Monday, October 26, 2009

Israel to re-examine IDF Cast Lead investigations

In an effort to relieve pressure from Richard Richard Goldstone, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (pictured) have decided to assemble a small legal panel to review the transcripts of the IDF investigations into Operation Cast Lead to ensure that nothing was covered up.
The team will only use existing material, such as previously unreleased drone footage of terrorists operating behind civilian lines in Gaza, and present the findings as an internal investigation refuting the allegations put forth Goldstone Commission's report.

According to a statement released on Saturday by the Prime Minister's Office, the IDF has investigated most of the incidents and accusations of human rights abuses mentioned in the report. The newly formed team, possibly headed by Justice Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman, will ensure that the military investigation was thorough and serious and that no facts were "covered up."
Sorry guys, but this is a mistake. Either you continue to take the position that the IDF investigated, we're satisfied with their investigation, and if you're not, go appeal to the High Court of Justice (which is what I would do), or you open a full blown investigation (which would also have been a bad move). Like this, Goldstone and his friends at the 'Human Rights Council' are dissatisfied from the outset. They will attack Yaakov Ne'eman personally because he's not former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak (Ne'eman is well to the right of Barak on the political map), and they will continue to scream when and if the review committee concludes that nothing was covered up and that no one is going to be offered up as a sacrifice to appease the 'Human Rights Council.'
In related news, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced on Sunday that Israel would work to fight the legitimacy of the report and change the laws of warfare to fit the new reality of terrorist combat.
That too is a mistake. First, refute Goldstone. It can be done - he applied the wrong legal standard. Then when the Goldstone Report is out of the public eye, work to change the laws of war. Trying to change the laws of war now looks like an admission of guilt.

The problem here is that the cabinet is divided:
During Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu made clear that IDF soldiers and officers would not be brought before an investigatory committee. He said that the investigatory mechanisms in place today were more than sufficient to deal with the situation.

Barak - an adamant opponent of establishing an inquiry committee - issued a statement after the meeting saying, "We sent the fighters on their missions, and they deserve complete backing."


Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi is also vehemently opposed to establishing an investigation committee.

Nevertheless, a number of cabinet members - Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud), Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) and Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) - threw their weight behind the establishment of some kind of inquiry committee on Sunday.

Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor (Likud) and National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Beiteinu) have also come out in favor of an internal Israeli investigation.


The most original idea came from Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), who reportedly told the cabinet that rather than setting up an investigation committee, Israel should release the protocols of the cabinet meetings held during the Gaza offensive last winter, which would show the degree of care Israel took during the fighting.
What no one here seems to get is that the degree of care that the cabinet took is almost irrelevant and the politicians are not the ones on trial. The legal standard (which was also ignored by Goldstone) is how a reasonable commander in the field would have acted in a similar situation and it's the commanders and soldiers in the field whose freedom is on the line. If we could get our politicians and our media to focus on that standard, we would all be a lot better off.

Haaretz adds:
Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman to coordinate the task force, which will present its recommendations as to Israel's course of action on the Goldstone report and its ramifications.

The team will make recommendations on what should be done in the diplomatic, legal and public relations planes.

The prime minister said during the meeting that the establishment of an investigation committee was "not an option."

"IDF soldiers and officers will not be subjected to investigation," he stressed.
That sounds quite different from the way JPost had the mandate, doesn't it? Is Haaretz trying to make Israel appear more 'stubborn,' or is the mandate really more one of preparing a response to Goldstone? Given that I have stated that a commission of inquiry is an all or nothing proposition, I actually hope that Haaretz is right about this.

Ehud Olmert got away with a commission of inquiry that lacked power after the Second Lebanon War. But in that war, the IDF failed and the audience was domestic. Here, the IDF succeeded, the world's anti-Semites are out for blood, and we are unlikely to 'get away' with such a weak commission or with any commission that does not extract Israeli blood.

There's a great comment from Shahar Ilan in Haaretz about why we should not set up any commission at all.
There is no way to wage combat in Gaza without harming the civilian population, and it is obvious that the IDF did much to avoid this. We are essentially telling our commanders: Your war is never over, and even if your life was saved, your career is in danger. No deed geared toward Israel's defense will go unpunished.

IDF officers and their charges are not the only ones whose faces we are spitting in by entertaining the very idea of establishing a commission of inquiry. What message are we sending to the residents of the south? That we accept the claim that firing thousands of Qassam rockets on their heads is not a war crime, but our operation is?

One needs to be blind not to recognize the fact that the world is judging us by a double standard. It does not change the fact that the world is stronger, and sometimes we need to put our heads down and play their game.

But there also comes a time when we need to say "enough is enough." If the officers who led Operation Cast Lead end up paying for it with their careers, or even if they do not pay but their appearances before a commission of inquiry become nightmarish, this will be the real crime.

All of us will bear responsibility for it, and all of us will pay the price during the next war.
Read the whole thing.


At 1:51 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel should simply say we exercised our right of self defense and leave it at that. Israel does not owe the world an apology or any justification. Quite simply, it can go to hell!


Post a Comment

<< Home