The IDF is preparing for a wave of lawsuits following the Cast Lead operation in Gaza, senior defense officials said Wednesday. The IDF has already set up a team responsible for reviewing evidence from Gaza in preparation for claims filed in international courts.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said the threat of international lawsuits was “not new,” but promised “intense activity” aimed at preventing the success of such suits. Several soldiers have been trained to film events while fighting, and the videotape is being reviewed by legal experts as well as intelligence agents. In addition, the IAF is filming all airstrikes in Gaza.
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann was unsurprised by the threat of lawsuits. He appeared unconcerned, saying Tuesday, “As a general rule we are very humane... We conduct pinpoint operations against terrorist organizations.”
As the operation continues Israeli diplomats have gone on the offensive, accusing Hamas of war crimes. On Wednesday Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev filed a complaint blaming Hamas for civilian deaths in Gaza. Hamas uses innocent civilians as human shields, Shalev charged. Senior IDF officials have made similar accusations.
Senior IDF officers have faced international lawsuits in the past. Officers have been forced to avoid visiting Britain and other European countries for fear of lawsuits. Suits were filed in the United States as well: former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon was accused of war crimes by a U.S. group in 2005, and a similar suit targeted Caterpiller, Inc. for selling bulldozers to Israel.
Mazuz: Legal Experts Approving Gaza Ops
In order to prevent lawsuits, legal experts are involved in the decision-making process, Mazuz said. “Representatives from the IDF Attorneys' Office are sitting in the command room and approving each operation and target,” he explained.
IDF attorneys are not taking sole command of the decision-making process, Mazuz clarified. “In the end, the decisions on the ground are made by the military, which sees things in real time,” he said.