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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gaza war sending legal tsunami to Israel

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 16:22:58 GMT | PressTV

Israeli concerns over legal actions against the army have prompted Defense Minister Ehud Barak to call for legal support for officers.

Barak is expected to bring forward a draft resolution supporting army officers and troops involved in unlawful actions during the Gaza War, The Jerusalem Post reported in its online edition.

The move comes amid speculations that Tel Aviv will face a wave of legal cases which will be opened against Israel over alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.

"The Israeli government bears the responsibility for sending IDF troops on missions, as well as for defending civilians, and as such is obligated to grant its full support," Barak said Friday.

The minister added that Israeli officers and troops should not be harmed due to their participation in the military operation.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had earlier tasked a special team, headed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, to deal with possible lawsuits.

The army will also set up a legal team to collect evidence which could be used to defend military commanders in international courts.

The steps are being taken amid reports by UN expert Richard Falk as well as other independent experts suggesting that Israel may have breached basic humanitarian rules and international laws in its military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Tel Aviv launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27 to put an end to rocket attacks against southern Israeli towns. At least 1,330 Palestinians died during the offensive, while some 5,450 others were reported wounded.

The huge number of civilian casualties in the densely-populated coastal sliver has provoked widespread outcries around the globe among many nations as well as their leaders.

"There needs to be an investigation carried out under independent auspices as to whether these grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions ... should be treated as war crimes," said Falk .

Arrest warrants had previously been issued against senior Israeli officials over their reported war crimes and the Israeli Foreign Ministry has recommended several officials not to travel to some Western countries to avoid arrest.

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