Army probe in Gaza will be ineffective: Israeli NGO

Israeli human rights organisation Btselem Thursday criticised the criminal investigation initiated by the Israeli Army in Gaza, claiming it would not be effective in finding fault with senior commanders.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 11, 2014, 17:24 PM IST

Jerusalem: Israeli human rights organisation Btselem Thursday criticised the criminal investigation initiated by the Israeli Army in Gaza, claiming it would not be effective in finding fault with senior commanders.

In a statement sent to EFE, the non-governmental organisation said "the hopes are minimal" because the same legal advisers who helped soldiers during the 50-day Israeli offensive in Gaza that ended last month themselves would now investigate these cases.

"According to our past experience with similar research, we don`t have high hopes. We believe that the results will lead only to a whitewash," the organisation said.

Btselem decided this week to suspend its cooperation with the Israeli Army after confirming that their research methods were cumbersome and their only goal was to avoid identifying those responsible.

The process avoids investigating senior officers and does not honestly study a wide range of policy issues related to the use of military force by Israel, said Hagai El-Ad, director of the NGO.

The investigation only focuses on the performance of the soldier on the ground, according to El-Ad.

The investigation has also started late. In addition, the operating test which began earlier allows soldiers to compare and alter the events.

Moreover, the statement said, researchers often do not have access to where incidents took place.

The Israeli Army said Wednesday it had decided to analyse five cases of alleged misbehaviour by its troops during the recent military offensive against Gaza.

In two of the cases, senior army commanders ordered criminal investigations.

The statement, which mentions that seven other incidents have been filed, notes that a total of 44 "exceptional incidents" occurred in Gaza this summer which have been referred for further study, and 50 more will be referred to the military command for future investigation.

The Gaza conflict lasted for 50 days until Aug 26 and left over 2,000 Palestinians dead and 11,000 wounded, mostly civilians and children, in addition to 70 Israelis killed, of which 65 were soldiers.

The high number of civilian casualties in Gaza raised international alarm and led the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a commission to examine allegations of possible violations of international law.