The Israel Defense Force’s Military Advocate General has decided to discipline or indict a number of officers and soldiers for their conduct during winter 2008-2009’s controversial “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza. An IDF staff sergeant has been indicted for manslaughter for allegedly shooting a Palestinian carrying a white flag, and an IDF Lieutenant Colonel was disciplined for “having deviated from military directives.” According to the MAG, he had authorized a Palestinian man to enter a house where militants were sheltering in order to persuade them to leave.
The indicted staff sergeant is being charged in a "white flag" incident that has drawn much international scrutiny, although he is not charged for the shooting of the victims that have been identified in media accounts.
The NY Times reports: "According to Palestinian witness testimony gathered by Human Rights Watch, the Goldstone mission and others, a group of 28 Palestinian civilians from two families set out on Jan. 4, 2009, in south of Gaza City, trying to evacuate the area after their homes were shelled. According to the witnesses, the group was fired on from the direction of some Israeli tanks. They said that Majida Abu Hajjaj, in her 30s, was killed while waving a white flag. Her mother, Rayya, was also fatally shot."
The Israel military said that it had been unable to match the testimonies of the Palestinians with those of the dozens of IDF soldiers it questioned, but soldiers testified that on Jan. 5, 2009, a man was shot and killed in the same location. The IDF believes “the two events are apparently one and the same." After reviewing the evidence, the IDF ordered the manslaughter indictment.
“This decision is based on evidence,” the military said, “that the soldier, who was serving as a designated marksman, deliberately targeted an individual walking with a group of people waving a white flag without being ordered or authorized to do so.”
The MAG has also ordered a criminal investigation into the circumstances of a another well-publicized incident in which more than 30 members of one Palestinian family were killed and medical personnel prevented from retrieving wounded from the site for days after the attack. The IDF struck a house that held about 100 members of the extended Samouni family in Zeitoun, a district of Gaza City. After finally gaining access to the house, Red Cross officials publicized their discovery of four emaciated Samouni children who had been trapped in the home with their mothers’ bodies.
Finally an IDF captain has been disciplined for “failed professional judgment” in authorizing an air strike which, according to witnesses, killed 15 inside a Mosque. According to the IDF, the strike was called on a man standing outside the Ibrahim al-Maqadma mosque who had been firing rockets, and shrapnel from the IDF blast caused unintentional injuries to civilians inside. According to the Goldstone Report, an Israeli projectile struck near the doorway of the mosque during evening prayers, killing at least 15 civilians who were mostly inside. Many of the instances investigated by the IDF have been previously detailed in Goldstone. The report, by a committee led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, was published in September 2009 and pointed to evidence of possible war crimes by the IDF during the operation and by Hamas militants leading up to the incursion.
The IDF reports that more than 150 cases have been examined since the Cast Lead campaign, and nearly 50 criminal investigations have been started.