C1. IDF MILITARY ADVOCATE GENERAL, INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO INCIDENTS OF OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE, TEL AVIV, 11 JUNE 2015 (EXCERPTS)
In anticipation of the findings of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) commission of inquiry into Gaza, the IDF conducted its own series of investigations into crimes allegedly committed by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge (OPE) in summer 2014. Released just weeks before the commission of inquiry’s, this report outlines the IDF’s examination protocol and discusses seven alleged exceptional incidents referred by the IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) for criminal investigation.
Most notably, the report includes the MAG’s findings in two high-profile incidents: the airstrike that killed four children on a Gaza beach, and the IDF bombing that killed eight members of the al-Najjar family in their residence on 29 July 2014. Surviving family members have reported that they received no warning prior to the attack and were not prepared to evacuate. The MAG closed the case after determining that IDF actions did not spark “reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal misconduct.” In the beach airstrike, the IDF claimed that the children were playing in an area of the beach that was “utilized exclusively by militants,” and thus they were believed to be armed Hamas members. However, international journalists who witnessed the event reported that it was obvious from afar that the victims were children. The MAG closed the case following a criminal investigation exonerating the Israeli troops involved.
Israel’s internal investigation was met with much criticism. The UNHRC commission of inquiry, which included this document in its own investigation, expressed concern over “a number of procedural, structural and substantive shortcomings, which continue to compromise Israel’s ability to adequately fulfill its duty to investigate.” Israel’s failure to appropriately conduct an internal investigation could have international legal ramifications since the purview of the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation into the situation in Palestine includes OPE.
Presented below are the MAG’s findings in the cases of the al-Najjar family and the death of the four children on the Gaza beach. The full report is available at www.law.idf.il.