How the IDF stalled a Cast Lead in­quiry

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News -

cab­i­net. A siz­able num­ber of min­is­ters were at first in favour of a com­mit­tee of in­quiry, as were most of the le­gal ad­vis­ers.

PM Binyamin Ne­tanyahu and De­fence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak also leaned to­wards a com­mis­sion, but Ashke­nazi set them right and they backed down. Both re­alised how the army’s spin doc­tors would make it look to the pub­lic. The most they could do was to ap­point a lim­ited com­mit­tee to re­view the IDF’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Se­nior army sources in­sist that they have noth­ing to hide and that the IDF’s in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions had been car­ried out im­pec­ca­bly.

“We have to break this vi­cious cir­cle where ev­ery war and ma­jor op­er­a­tion is au­to­mat­i­cally fol­lowed by a com­mis­sion of in­quiry,” says an ad­viser to Gen­eral Ashke­nazi. “If not, no of­fi­cer will be able to op­er­ate un­der fire, he will be think­ing the whole time how to cover him­self from the next com­mis­sion and con­sult­ing his lawyers.”

The IDF was hauled be­fore com­mis­sions of in­quiries fol­low­ing the 1973 Yom Kip­pur War, the Sabra and Shatila mas­sacre in 1982 and the Sec­ond Le­banon War three years ago. But in those cases, the pub­lic felt let down by the IDF and de­mand to know what had hap­pened rose from the streets.

Op­er­a­tion Cast Lead has been seen by most Is­raelis as a re­sound­ing suc­cess. Ha­mas was smashed, the rocket fir­ing stopped and the ca­su­al­ties, 10 dead sol­diers, rel­a­tively light. A re­cent poll showed that the IDF is the most pop­u­lar part of the Is­raeli es­tab­lish­ment, by a wide mar­gin. A ju­di­cial probe could re­verse that pop­u­lar­ity.

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