Israeli military advocate claimed that investigations carried out into killing between 135 and 200 Palestinian citizens in three hours 2014 in Gaza did not find any criminal wrongdoings –an outcome came against all international rights groups’ findings.
Chief Israeli Military Advocate General Major General Sharon Afek has decided to close the case on the Israeli aggressive attacks carried out against a number of Palestinian neighbourhoods in the east of Rafah, the southernmost city of the blockaded Gaza Strip on Friday 1 August 2014.
Afek decided to close the case without opening a criminal investigation, according to the Israeli news website Ynet News, against the Israeli troops who were involved in the attacks that led to the killing of at least 135 to 200 Palestinians, wounded more than 1,000 and demolished more than 200 homes, in addition to all infrastructure installations, schools, mosques and water and sewage plants. Afek claimed that 42 of the deaths were Hamas militants.
In spite of recognising there was a “professional mistake,” Afek said he did not find any criminal wrongdoings in the conduct of the Israeli troops who were involved in the attacks and decided there were no grounds to take any disciplinary measures or to file any criminal charges against them.
To justify the carnage, Israel claims that the four-day aggression started when a Hamas militant used the 72-hour ceasefire to ambush a group of Israeli soldiers and kill three of them including Hadar Goldin, who Hamas captured and ever since has given no details about. Israel says he has been killed and Hamas has kept parts of his body.
However Amnesty International, which carried out an investigation into the carnage along with the research team Forensic Architecture located at the Goldsmiths University of London, said that a “group of Israeli soldiers patrolling an agricultural area west of the border encountered a group of Hamas fighters posted there, a fire fight ensued, resulting in the death of two Israeli soldiers and one Palestinian fighter and Hamas fighters captured the Israeli officer Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and took him into a tunnel”.
Amnesty International’s report, which was published one year after the Israeli attacks, examined the response of the Israeli army to Goldin’s capture and said: “There is overwhelming evidence that Israeli forces committed disproportionate, or otherwise indiscriminate, attacks which killed scores of civilians in their homes, on the streets and in vehicles and injured many more. This includes repeatedly firing artillery and other imprecise explosive weapons in densely populated civilian areas during the attacks on Rafah between 1 and 4 August. In some cases, there are indications that they directly fired at and killed civilians, including people fleeing.”
However, Afek said that there was no revenge fire or out of control behaviour by the Israeli forces. The report said: “Public statements by Israeli army commanders and soldiers after the conflict provide compelling reasons to conclude that some attacks that killed civilians and destroyed homes and property were intentionally carried out and motivated by a desire for revenge – to teach a lesson to, or punish, the population of Rafah for the capture of Lieutenant Goldin.”
The report also said: “There is consequently strong evidence that many such attacks in Rafah between 1 and 4 August were serious violations of international humanitarian law and constituted grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention or other war crimes.”
It added: “The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict examined the Israeli army attack on Rafah on 1 August and also raised serious concerns about the conformity of the Israeli army actions on that day with international law. The commission investigated attacks it considered disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate and found that some might amount to war crimes.”
The most dangerous issue that the report found was the fact that the “Israeli army commanders and officers can operate in confidence [means] that they are unlikely to be held accountable for violations of international law due to the pervasive climate of impunity that has existed for decades. This is due, in large part, to the lack of independent, impartial and effective investigations.”