Israeli military sanctions soldiers for their actions during the 2021 Gaza war but will not bring criminal charges

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Friday it has disciplined five officers, but will not press charges for their actions during Israel’s 2021 war in the Gaza Strip — a conflict in which human rights defenders human rights claim that Israel has committed war crimes.

The soldiers, who received reprimands from the army for their actions, did not obey standard procedures when they struck Gaza, according to the army statement. He did not say when the incidents took place, what happened or whether they involved civilian deaths.

Israel’s war with Gaza – the fourth since the militant group Hamas took control of the region in 2007 – has left more than 250 Palestinians dead, while 13 people have been killed in Israel.

Israeli planes hit hundreds of targets in Gaza and Hamas launched more than 4,000 rockets into Israel.

Human rights groups have harshly criticized the conduct of Israeli forces during the 11-day war. New York-based Human Rights Watch said Israeli military actions amounted to war crimes, including attacks that had ‘no obvious military targets’, and resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians . The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into Israeli actions in Gaza dating back to 2014.

Israel accuses Gaza’s militant group Hamas of responsibility for the civilian casualties, saying it is launching attacks and hiding in residential areas.

Friday’s statement said the military investigated the actions of five officers, three of them with the rank of colonel.

The army statement said that in one incident, two officers were involved in striking a target from an unauthorized distance.

In a second incident, an officer received a warning for “negligence for incriminating a target in violation of mandatory procedure”. Another officer was reprimanded for “lack of sufficient control in the strike unit cell”.

In the third incident, an officer made a mistake in the “targeting procedure”.

A review of the officers’ actions by Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, an army inspector, found that none “crossed the threshold of criminality”, the statement said.

He also said most officers received reprimands, but gave few additional details.

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, said the sanctions were relatively light and did not constitute a real form of accountability for the destruction of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

“Entire families were wiped out and high-rise buildings with dozens of homes and businesses were reduced to rubble,” Shakir said. “This requires a much more serious investigation and real consequences imposed, not only on those who carried out the attacks but on those who authorized them. What happened does not seem to be that.

The announcement follows the Israeli raid this week on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, which has also been criticized by the international community, including a rare condemnation of the UN chief, for possible human rights violations.

The Jenin raid – Israel’s largest military operation in the West Bank in two decades – left 12 Palestinians dead and more than 100 civilians injured. An Israeli soldier was also killed.

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