Israeli Reservists Demand End to Gaza War Probe

January 5, 2015  

One hundred reserve officers as well as dozens of reserve combat soldiers and noncommissioned officers have banded together to fight against the Israeli Defense Forces’ probe into Operation Protective Edge. 

In a joint letter, the reservists call on IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to halt criminal investigations into soldiers’ and officers’ conduct during the recent Gaza war. 

The letter, the initiative of nonprofit organization Consensus: Warrior for Warriors, argues that “investigations regarding judgment under fire or when life is at risk must be conducted by commanders” and not by the Military Police or the Military Advocate General Corps.

Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, the chief military prosecutor of the Military Advocate General, has ordered investigations into 13 “exceptional incidents that allegedly occurred during Operation Protective Edge.” 

These included five alleged incidents of looting by IDF soldiers, two alleged incidents in which ambulance drivers were killed, and two alleged incidents of Palestinian civilians being used as “human shields.” 

One particularly notable incident under investigation is the Israeli airstrike of a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Beit Hanun, in northern Gaza, on July 24. 

15 civilians were killed according to Palestinian Arab reports. Hundreds of refugees had been using the school as a temporary shelter at the time of the airstrike. 

An investigation into the July 16 airstrike that killed four Palestinian children on the beach in Gaza City has also been ordered. A strike on July 20 that hit the home of the Abu Jama family in Khan Younis, allegedly killing 27 civilians, is also under investigation. 

At least one of the strikes – the UNRWA school incident – already underwent an IDF investigation early in the operation, after the UN and Hamas falsely claimed that the IDF prevented civilians from being evacuated before the strike. 

Most of these investigations were ordered after preliminary examinations by a General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments. This was headed by Northern Corps Commander, Maj. Gen. Noam Tivon, and included six teams of experts. 

“It is intolerable to contemplate such a pattern of behavior that threatens the spirit of the fighters, the strength of the IDF and confidence in its commanders,” the letter said, hinting at the possibility of criminal investigation into the events of a day known as “Black Friday” – which some journalists and leftists have been demanding. 

During battles in Rafah, in southern Gaza, on August 1, three soldiers and 130 Palestinians were killed in an effort by the IDF’s Givati Brigade to return abducted officer, 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.

Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, came out in defense of these soldiers, denouncing the “relentless attack” against them. 

The soldiers are being blamed for supposedly “firing indiscriminately,” Bennett noted. “This is what they are saying about soldiers who went out to risk their lives in the search for their comrade, who had been abducted by barbaric terrorists in the course of the ceasefire.”

At a speech last week, Gantz stated that IDF soldiers and officers receive “full command-level support … and if someone deviated and committed serious and forbidden acts, we will deal with that, too. We will investigate, and where necessary we will complete the process with [criminal] investigations.”

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