Israeli rights group urges government to probe Gaza War
An Israeli human rights group Wednesday urged the government to launch an independent probe into a three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza which killed some 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of them non-combatants, dpa reported.
"Better late than never: even two years since Operation Cast Lead, an independent Israeli investigation is crucial to achieve accountability and prevent future violations," B'Tselem said in a statement, issued on the anniversary of the end of the Gaza War, which took place in the winter of 2008-09.
B'Tselem provided its own casualty count of the war, saying that 1,390 Palestinians had been killed, of whom it said at least 759 were non-combatants.
The dead included 318 minors.
More than 5,300 Palestinians were also injured in the deadliest fighting by far since Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan in 1967.
Internal investigations by the Israeli military police launched to probe individual allegations against soldiers were insufficient and did not meet the demands for an independent probe, while they also did not question policy, the rights group said.
As far as B'Tselem knows, four soldiers have been prosecuted on criminal charges, involving three incidents. Disciplinary proceedings were taken against six officers, it said.
"In light of the severe harm inflicted on human rights during the operation, Israel has the moral and practical obligation to open an investigation, external to the military, to examine the complaints of breaches of law," said B'Tselem.
"Israel can still investigate effectively, and has the duty to do so. First, those responsible for the harsh violations of human rights must be held accountable. Second, the investigation's conclusions can guide policy in future military operations."
B'Tselem also condemned Palestinian armed groups for their indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire from Gaza at southern Israel.