Israel can ‘improve’ war crime probes: report

A civilian committee tasked with investigating Israel’s 2010 flotilla raid on several Turkish ships headed for the blockaded Gaza Strip concluded (PDF) on Feb. 6 that investigations by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of alleged war crimes violations meet the standards proscribed by international law, but that there is still room to improve “the system of reviewing and investigating.” In Part II of its overall report, the Turkel Commission made 18 recommendations (press release, PDF) to various branches of the Israeli government for improving its response to future incidents like the raid. Among its most imperative recommendations, the commission stressed the need to “establish a unit specializing in the laws of armed conflict…at the Ministry of Justice.”

Additionally, given that a criminal investigation was not opened immediately after the Gaza flotilla raid, the group urged “the adoption of a policy that requires investigations into significant and unusual incidents” despite there being no legal obligation to do so. Finally, the commission recommended that the scene of such incidents be investigated by a fact-finding assessment team assigned to focus on the legal aspects of the incident. The work of the commission, which is headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel and began over two years ago, is now complete.

The Turkel Commission released the first part of its report in January 2011, finding that Israel was in full compliance with international law regarding both security maritime regulations and humanitarian obligations during the Gaza flotilla raid, which resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists. 

From Jurist, Feb. 7. Used with permission.