JERUSALEM (JTA) — The IDF General Staff has ordered an investigation into the Israeli military’s response to the Gaza border protests.
The Israel Defense Forces announced on Sunday that Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch has been appointed to lead the investigation. Baruch is a former division commander and current head of the army’s Training and Doctrine Division.
The IDF conducted a similar investigation after the Gaza war in 2014. Only after the investigation is completed will a decision be made on whether to open a Military Police investigation, according to reports.
Some 30 Palestinians, including a journalist, have been killed since the protests began on March 30. The investigation likely will focus on several specific cases, such as the death of photojournalist Yasser Murtaja, who was operating a drone over the heads of Israeli troops and was wearing a vest emblazoned with the word “Press” on it.
The protests are part of the planned six-week “March of Return” which will end in mid-May with the anniversary of Israel’s founding, which the Arab world calls the Nakba, or catastrophe. The Palestinians have said the protests are peaceful, but the IDF says that protesters have thrown rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops on the other side of the border fence and have attempted to damage and cross the border fence into Israel.
Meanwhile, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Sunday said that actions by both Israeli soldiers and Hamas may be considered war crimes.
Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that: “Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution before the Court, with full respect for the principle of complementarity.”
“I am aware that the demonstrations in the Gaza Strip are planned to continue further. My Office will continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force. I urge all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this tragic situation. The resort to violence must stop,” the statement also said.