On July 19, The State of Israel published a new update of the investigations into the Gaza Operation. This update follows the publication of "The Operation in Gaza – Factual and Legal Aspects" (July 2009) and "Gaza Operation Investigations: An Update" (January 2010).
In this document, the Government of Israel shares with the Israeli and international public updates regarding its investigations. During the past six months, since the publication of the last update, 11 additional criminal investigations into events relating to the Gaza Operation have been opened, bringing the total number of criminal investigations in the wake of allegations regarding violations of the Law of Armed Conflict to 47. Some of the investigations have have resulted in criminal indictments: two IDF soldiers were recently indicted for compelling a Palestinian minor to assist them in opening suspicious parcels, and another IDF soldier suspected of killing a Palestinian civilian. These cases are in addition to an earlier conviction of an IDF soldier for looting.
Israel examines complaints from a wide variety of sources, including Palestinian civilians, Israeli and international NGOs, reports from the United Nations and other international organizations. Even where Israel has expressed criticism of some of these reports, it views them as an important source of information. The two new indictments resulted from such reports.
Other cases resulted in disciplinary proceedings against senior officers, in instance where it was decided that while criminal actions had not been committed, they had deviated from the IDF's clear instructions.
Chapter 3 of the report provides an update of 16 concrete cases relating to the Gaza Operation. In most cases, the factual and/or legal conclusions reached differ widely from what was presented in outside reports.
In other cases, even where no violations of the Law of Armed Conflict were found, many lessons were learned that led to operational changes in IDF orders and combat doctrine, particularly in the area of protection of civilian property in time of armed conflict. A salient example of this is the integration of a Humanitarian Affairs Officer in each combat unit beginning at the battalion level and new procedures to regulate destruction of private property in cases of military necessity.
The document also describes the Turkel Commission, established in the wake of the Gaza flotilla, which also received a mandate to examine the conformity of Israel’s mechanisms for investigating complaints raised in relation to violations of the Law of Armed Conflict with its obligations under international law.