The Turkel Committee recommended Wednesday that Israel pursue legislation that would adhere to international war crime investigation norms, which are not already covered by existing Israeli law.
The committee, tasked with probing the 2010 raid on the Marmara, a Turkish vessel heading a Gaza-bound flotilla meant to breach the maritime blockade imposed on the Strip, released the second part of its report Wednesday, focusing on the legal aspects of the raid.
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The report focused on Israel's own investigation process in the matter and the various legal ramifications on Israel's standing in the international community.
"The second report should be used as the standard by which any future investigation of this matter takes place, if needed, and serve as a legal 'Iron Dome' for Israel," the committee said in a statement.
The Turkel Committee (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The committee's first report determined that the Navy raid of the Marmara – which tragically left nine Turkish nationals dead and caused a rift in Jerusalem's relations with Ankara - was not in violation of international law.
The second report, however, found several flaws in the decision-making process leading up to the raid, most notably the absence of a civilian body to offer the defense establishment counsel on operational aspects concerning international law.
- For the full report click here
The committee further found that while the Military Judge Advocate's decision not to launch an inquiry immediately after the incident coincides with international law, Israel should consider employing policies that order such inquires – even if they are not mandated by international law.
Israel's legal practices in matters concerning the potential infringements of the Rules of War are satisfactory and adhere to its obligations according to international law, the committee said; adding that the State should update its directives and anchor some of its guidelines by legislation.
Too many loopholes
The Turkel Committee's second report further recommended that the Justice Ministry absorb and implement the most advanced international norms concerning the methods and practices by which suspected war crimes are investigated.
Another chapter in the 400-page report, stipulates that the law must be updated to include the possibility of imposing direct criminal liability on IDF officers and civilian inspectors for transgressions perpetrated by their subordinates – should it be proven that no reasonable measures were taken to prevent them, or that they neglected to report such offenses.
The report said that the IDF Chief of Staff's directives concerning reports of incidents concerning Palestinian casualties were not being implemented properly; and suggests that it too be anchored by legislation and that troops failing to comply with them be subject to disciplinary – and if need be criminal – sanctions.
The report states that the Military Prosecution must classify incidents according to their legal context under the international law immediately, as well as put in place a mechanism to evaluate whether an investigation is warranted, and do so within a timeframe no longer than several weeks.
The committee recommended that the IDF form an auxiliary team of operational experts in the fields of international and military law, to assist the JAG in his decision.
Finally, the Turkel Committee recommended that the Prime Minister's Office form an independent taskforce to follow the implementation of its recommendations.
The IDF issued the following statement is response to the report: "The Turkel Committee is a professional, independent committee appointed by the State of Israel and the defense establishment has lent it its full cooperation, as did the legal system, the academia and human rights groups.
"The report found that overall, the investigatory process concerning possible infringement of the Rules of War by the IDF or Israel, coincides with the requirements stipulated in the international law – and the IDF welcomes these findings."
The defense establishment, the statement added, "Will thoroughly study the committee's recommendations regarding updating the existing processes and will act accordingly."
Yaron Drukman contributed to this report
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