IDF opens criminal probes into troops’ conduct in Gaza


(JTA) — Israel’s army opened six criminal investigations into soldiers’ actions during its latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, including the bombing of a United Nations school.

The probes, which may help Israel defend its officials against possible war crimes charges in the International Criminal Court, was announced Thursday by Chief Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni in a statement to media about the Israel Defense Forces’ Fact-Finding Assessment on the events of the summer of 2014.

“Dozens of additional incidents are still in various stages of examination by the Fact-Finding Assessment mechanism, and their findings will be provided by the Military Advocate General in due course,” read the statement, which came accompanied with a 21-page report about fact-finding actions taken on several allegations.

The July 30 bombing of a Jabaliya school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency showed “grounds for a reasonable suspicion that the strike was not carried out in accordance with the rules and procedures applicable to IDF forces,” the report said.

“The MAG has ordered the opening of a criminal investigation into the incident,” it said.

U.N. and Palestinian sources said 21 people died in the shelling of the school. The 50-day war reportedly killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and 72 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The announcement came amid reports that the Palestinian Authority is determined to ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation into the conduct of Israeli officials. Among Israel’s arguments against the U.N. court’s involvement is the existence of Israel’s own judicial review; the international court must establish that a targeted individual would not be brought to justice in his home country.

The remaining five complaints include three cases of Palestinians who said IDF troops beat them after their capture, along with one case of looting. Two other allegations of looting were dismissed for lack of evidence.

The report also included details of seven incidents that the MAG determined did not necessitate further investigation.

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