Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Israeli report highlights IDF casualty prevention, Hamas abuses during Gaza conflict

Ariel Schalit/AP/Press Association Images

Israel’s government yesterday released an extensive report into last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, highlighting the IDF’s extensive efforts to avoid military casualties, while at the same time documenting Hamas’ exploitation of Gaza’s civilians during the conflict.

The 277-page document is an inter-ministerial report published by the Foreign Ministry. Among its key findings, the report found that the IDF engaged in a lengthy legal process before attacks were approved, in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict and that the IDF also made extensive efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians during the fighting.

By contrast, the report said that Hamas deliberately attempted to draw fighting into urban terrain for political gain and often physically coerced Gazans to remain in areas Israel warned would be attacked. 550 rockets and mortars were identified as having been fired from civilian sites including mosques, schools and hospitals. Meanwhile, of the 2,125 Palestinians killed during the conflict, the report said 36 per cent were civilians and 44 per cent combatants. Had Hamas accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire a week into the conflict, the report said 90 per cent of casualties would have been avoided.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented that the report “presents the true fact that the actions carried out by the IDF were done in accordance to international law.” It comes soon before the expected publication of a United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) commission report into the conflict. Israel declined to cooperate with the UNHRC investigation as the commission’s mandate appeared to target Israel, while the UNHRC itself has a track record of hostility towards Israel.

Meanwhile, a multi-national group of former-chiefs of staff, generals and politicians on Friday submitted a report to the United Nations summarising their own investigation into the IDF’s conduct during Operation Protective Edge. It concluded, “Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”

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