December 14, 2009

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict


The IDF has completed a review of the 36 “most serious” cases of alleged war crimes as cited by Judge Richard Goldstone in his damning report on Operation Cast Lead, and concluded that 30 of them are “baseless accusations,” The Jerusalem Post has learned. The other six were found to relate to genuine instances, where operational errors and mistakes were involved.

The IDF is currently finalizing a report in response to the allegations leveled by the Goldstone mission on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It is expected to be completed and submitted to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi for review in the coming weeks. The army has yet to decide what it will do with the report and whether it will be released to the public.

The IDF has, however, already launched a diplomatic campaign to present some of the results of its probe.

On Wednesday, Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit met in New York with representatives of 10 different countries, as well as with officials from the UN secretariat and the Obama administration, to present some of Israel’s findings.

In November, Ashkenazi appointed former IDF chief intelligence officer Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yuval Halamish as the “project manager” for coordinating IDF work on the report with other government offices.

One of Halamish’s first tasks was to oversee the ongoing 28 Military Police investigations and ensure that they were moving along swiftly. IDF sources said Thursday that the investigations were almost completed and the results would likely be included in the report.

Another integral part of the army’s counter-Goldstone report is the chapter on the humanitarian efforts that the IDF made during the three-week operation. This part was recently completed by Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration head Col. Moshe Levi and submitted to the General Staff for review.

The 36 cases being reviewed were mentioned in the Goldstone report as representative of the IDF operation.

“We chose those 36 because they seemed to be, to represent the most serious, the highest death toll, the highest injury toll,” Goldstone said in a PBS interview in October. “And they appear to represent situations where there was little or no military justification for what happened.”

The review of these cases was overseen by Col. Ro’i Elkabetz, chief of operations in the IDF’s Southern Command, in conjunction with the Israel Air Force.

While Goldstone never made the specific list public, NGO Monitor compiled a list of the incidents based on the report.

They include an air strike on Gaza’s main prison, attacks on a flour mill and several mosques and chicken farms, and specific cases of families that claimed to have been targeted by the IDF.

Elkabetz recently completed his review of the cases and submitted his conclusions to OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant. In the coming weeks, the final report on the 36 cases will be submitted to Halamish and will be added to the IDF’s final report.

E.B. Solomont contributed to the report.