An Israeli officer was found innocent by the IDF legal division of criminal charges for his conduct in 2014 Gaza war.
IDF Lt. Col. Neria Yeshurun was acquitted late Tuesday, though he was censured for his actions, in the first case involving war crimes allegations against an IDF commander in 2014.
The case centered on an order given by Yeshurun to fire on a pharmacy in Gaza under questionable circumstances.
The prosecution charged that he had ordered the shelling of the pharmacy solely for the purpose of avenging the death of an Israeli soldier who had been killed the day before. While military law permits soldiers to fire on a civilian location being used by the enemy to shoot at them, it is not clear that it permits firing on it after the fact, in the absence of military necessity.
There was no claim that civilians were hurt during the shelling, and the case against Yeshurun concerned only whether he acted within his authority.
Yeshurun’s lawyer, Lt. Col. (res.) Shlomo Tzipori argued that he gave the order as a matter of “military necessity.” A hesped that Yeshurun had given for the slain comrade, which had been captured on audio recording, was only an added encouragement to the troops, not the reason for the order, he said.
Tzipori noted that under the pharmacy was a Hamas tunnel and that a primary part of the IDF’s mission was to eliminate tunnels, which sometimes required firing on objects hiding in the tunnels.
The lawyer stated that the terrorists’ firing from the pharmacy the day before caused it to lose its protected status as a civilian site, and therefore the IDF could not wait for it to be reused for ambushes.
Pressed as to whether anyone was firing from the pharmacy at the IDF at the time the shelling was ordered, Tzipori demurred, but said that there was firing in the area.