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IDF Closes Probes into Allegations of Misconduct in Gaza

The IDF has closed probes into more than 60 allegations of misconduct during Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 4/16/2013, 4:12 AM

IAF airstrike in Gaza
IAF airstrike in Gaza
AFP photo

The IDF has closed probes into more than 60 allegations of misconduct during its counterterrorism operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza last November, it told AFP, according to a Monday report.

In a report sent to the news agency, the IDF said its Military Advocate General had "reviewed the factual findings, as far as they existed, with respect to approximately 65 incidents, and did not find a basis for opening a criminal investigation in those cases."

Among the incidents being investigated was a November 18 air strike on a family home in Gaza City in which Hamas terrorist Mohammed al-Dallu was killed along with nine other members of his family and two neighbors.

"The regrettable deaths of members of the Al-Dallu family were caused as a result of an attack aimed against a senior terrorist operative and several other terrorists responsible for launching many dozens of missile and rocket attacks," against Israeli population center, said the report, received by AFP on Sunday.

It added that about 15 more incidents were still being probed.

 The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the military investigation procedure.

"Given the flaws inherent in this system -- which more than five months after the latest Israeli offensive has failed to result in a single war crimes indictment -- PCHR believes that Israel's legal system is used as a smokescreen, to provide an illusion of investigative rigor," it said in a statement quoted by AFP.

As expected, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed the IDF’s statement, saying there was "no independently-verifiable information to support its claim that Israeli air strikes that killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war were all lawful."

"Just saying that the fatal consequences of an attack were 'unintended' or a 'mistake' does not make the attack lawful," said HRW's Bill Van Esveld in an email.

HRW recently accused Israel of violating the laws of war during Operation Pillar of Defense, claiming the IDF carried out 14 air strikes in which it said there did not appear to be a valid military target.

In addition, HRW alleged the IDF used “disproportionate force” in targeting terrorists in four other strikes.

HRW also accused Gaza's terrorist organizations of committing war crimes in its December report, with unusual bluntness. “Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim last month,” wrote HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”

The organization “found that armed groups repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire.” HRW named the “armed groups" as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees’ terrorist branches.

Hamas's spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, whose terrorist movement rules Gaza, said in a statement that the IDF’s decision to halt investigations into the Dallu family air strike "encourages further killing of Palestinians."