State Comptroller Yosef Shapira announced on Tuesday that his office has undertaken an investigation into the military and civilian conduct last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
The move was part of Israel’s strategy to avert an International Criminal Court (ICC) inquiry that could lead to charges of war crimes.
A United Nations Human Rights Council commission of inquiry into Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip is already underway.
The International Criminal Court generally takes on only cases concerning countries that are unwilling or unable to investigate their own actions. Shapira addressed the point in an accompanying statement:
“According to principles of international law,” the statement said, “when a state exercises its authority to objectively investigate accusations regarding violations of the laws of armed conflict, this will preclude examination of said accusations by external international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague).”
Shapira said his investigation would also focus on the “examination and investigational procedures” within the military and be based on decisions of Israel’s Supreme Court as well as previous commissions of inquiry, including the Turkel Commission, which examined Israel’s mechanisms for investigating claims of violations of international law regarding armed conflict.
Working with Shapira on the issue will be three experts: Michael Newton, an expert on international law and warfare at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; Moshe Halbertal, an expert in Jewish philosophy who helped draft the Israeli military’s code of ethics; and Prof. Miguel Deutch, a law professor at Tel Aviv University who served on the Turkel Commission.