From Sept. 22nd 2016
This week, B’Tselem published a new report titled “Whitewash Protocol: The So-Called Investigation of Operation Protective Edge”. The report describes Israel’s charade of investigating alleged breaches of law during the fighting in Gaza in the summer of 2014. Official claims that these suspicions are being investigated, along with the MAG’s (Military Advocate General) fifth recent update on his work on the matter, constitute little more than a façade.
In Operation Protective Edge, Israeli security forces killed 1,391 Palestinians who did not participate in the fighting, including 526 minors. Thousands of homes were destroyed, rendering some 100,000 Palestinians homeless. The decision makers who are truly responsible for these deadly consequences – government officials and senior military commanders, including the MAG, who devised the policy and gave the orders – were never investigated and made sure to absolve themselves of accountability from the outset. The only investigations that were opened focused on the responsibility of lower ranks for isolated “exceptional cases”, ignoring the fact that scores more nearly identical cases ended with horrifying outcomes. Some of the investigations are still under way, dozens of others were closed, and only one indictment has been filed to date – against three soldiers for stealing 2,420 shekels.
In his response to the report, the IDF Spokesperson said that B’Tselem is waging a “delegitimization campaign” against the military law enforcement system. Yet this system cannot be considered legitimate until it ensures justice for victims and unless its investigations seek to uncover the truth and hold those responsible accountable. As the investigation of Operation Protective Edge indicates, and together with the findings of our last report, “The Occupation’s Fig Leaf: Israel’s Military Law Enforcement System as a Whitewash Mechanism”, what may appear at times to be an independent, efficient law enforcement system is in fact a mechanism for covering up suspected offenses and protecting the real culprits.
Adv. Yael Stein
Research Director, B’Tselem