Human rights community to Israeli Prime Minister: Time is running out. Establish independent inquiry into Operation Cast Lead

Published: 
26 Jan 2010

Human rights organizations in Israel reissued their call to the Government of Israel to establish, without delay, an independent and impartial investigation mechanism to thoroughly examine the allegations raised regarding violations of international law during Operation Cast Lead. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet, heads of the organizations today (Tuesday, 26.1.10) called on Israel to take advantage of the short time still remaining before the UN deliberated on the Goldstone report's implementation.

The organizations specify in their letter why the military's internal examination, which includes operational debriefings and approximately 30 Military Police investigations, does not satisfy Israel's obligations to investigate. These examinations do not conform to the demands set by the Goldstone fact-finding mission, that Israel and Hamas each investigate suspected violations of international law during Cast Lead. Therefore, they will not be accepted as an appropriate response to the Goldstone report. Furthermore, the organizations warn that Israel's refusal to hold an independent investigation will expose military officers and members of the previous government to investigation and legal proceedings likely to take place outside Israel.

In light of the above, the organizations called on the Prime Minister to establish, without further delay, an impartial investigative body which will conduct an independent and effective investigation of incidents in which allegations have been raised that Israel violated the provisions of international law during Operation Cast Lead. In order that the investigation will be seen as credible, the organizations believe that a foreign expert on international humanitarian law should be a part of this process. The investigation should examine Israel's conduct during Operation Cast Lead, including an examination of accountability on the political and command level. Likewise, the investigative body should be charged with preparing the legal groundwork for future military conduct.

This morning the Israeli media reported that the PM is considering appointing a legal team to review the military's investigations and debriefings. The organizations clarify that only an independent and transparent investigation will satisfy Israel's international obligations.

The extent of damage to the civilian population during the operation was unprecedented. The allegations raised regarding the military's conduct are serious and grave. The Israeli public has the right to an explanation of the actions taken in its name in the Gaza Strip. This is an essential issue at the heart of Israeli society.

Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Hamoked - Center for Defence of the Individual, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel , Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din - Volunteers for Human Rights , Rabbis for Human Rights