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Israeli Military Advocate General Refuses to Investigate Alleged War Crimes in Operation Pillar of Defence

15-05-2013 00:00

Al Mezan finds Military Advocate General’s (MAG) decision part of a broader Israeli policy to disregard obligations under international law in favor of impunity; Al Mezan expresses its strong denunciation and calls upon the international community to bring an end to the state of impunity that Israel holds.
The Israeli occupying forces continue to disregard their obligations under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by refusing to conduct investigations into alleged serious and systematic violations.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights submitted 17 criminal complaints to the MAG to open investigations into incidents that took place during the last Israeli aggression, code-named Operation Pillar of Defence (POD), and that resulted in extra-judicial killings and the demolition of private property and housing units.
The MAG responded on two cases out of 17; the first case involving the death of two Salman family members and the second case involving the summary killing of Hussam Abd Al-Jwad.
The MAG response noted that “the attacks were legitimate as they took place within an Israeli military operation.
As such, the Israeli soldiers cannot be held liable.
” The criminal responsibility is thereupon dropped, and the case is effectively closed.
Some details about the incidents are as follows.
Regarding the Salman family case according to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 12:15 pm on Friday, 16 November 2012, the Israeli Air Force fired one missile into the yard of Ghaze Mohamed Salman’s house, which is located in Beit Lahia in the North Gaza district.
As a result, Mohammed Salman, 28, and Tahreer Salman, 28, were killed.
In addition, Jamal Salaman, 28, and Rahaf Salman, two years old, were injured.
As regards the case of the summary killing of Hussam Abd Al-Jwad according to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 2:15 pm on Monday, 19 November 2012, the Israeli Air Force fired one missile into a civilian vehicle, which was being driven by Hussam on Al Saftawe Street in Gaza City.
The air assault resulted in the killing of Hussam, 32, and the injury of two passersby’s, Dr.
Fadi Juda, 57, and Ya’qoub Mheesn, 35.
The barriers to achieving justice within the Israeli judicial system range from high court fees, to inability to physically access the courts and lawyers, to amendments to the State Liability Law, which issue sweeping impunity for those accused.
On 23 July 2012, one such further restriction was made in Amendment 8, which blocks any possibility for compensation in civil cases taking place during “combat action” or “military operations” in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
The sweeping impunity the State of Israel has afforded itself from this amendment is in contravention to norms of customary international law, which place liability on the State for acts committed by members of its armed forces.
Moreover, while Amendment 8 affords this impunity specifically during times of war, Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War cannot be absolved of liability for incidents occurring during military operations and involving grave breaches or serious violations of a civilian population.
Israel’s heightened barriers placed within its legal system prevent effective redress and justice for Palestinian victims and remain constructs substantively counter to the pertinent rules of international law.
As long as Israel fails to hold itself accountable, Al Mezan calls upon the international community to put into effect the international accountability mechanisms that can ensure the victims right to redress, and hold accountable those responsible for the violations.

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