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‘Israel is a state of law’ – IDF chief prosecutor hits back against international diplomatic onslaught

To date IDF launched around 70 investigations into possible misconduct in the war

Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

“The State of Israel is a state of law,” the IDF’s chief military prosecutor, Maj.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said in her speech at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat on Monday.

Amid the outrage over the alleged IDF “massacre” in Rafah the previous night, Tomer-Yerushalmi, in her speech, highlighted the IDF’s longstanding commitment to the law, which she said has been integral since the army’s founding.

“The IDF’s commitment to the law does not stem from the concern posed by the international arena,” the general said.

“It is rooted, first and foremost, in the fact that the State of Israel is a state of law. The rule of law, and the purity of arms, are values woven into the IDF’s code of ethics from the day it was established.”

In addition to the incident in Rafah, which she said is being investigated, the IDF's prosecutors also spoke in the aftermath of rulings against Israel by both the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

“This war is unusual, among other things for being the most legal-focused war that we have seen,” Tomer-Yerushalmi emphasized.

Chief Military Advocate Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi speaks at the Israel Bar Association annual conference of attorneys in Eilat in southern Israel, May 27, 2024. (Photo: Flash 90)

Israel Defense Forces has several tools to deal with this unprecedented situation, which include the General Staff’s Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism and the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID), both professional and independent mechanisms.

“They are professionally guided by the Military Advocate General, and are not subject to the regular chain of command involved in combat. These entities are staffed by senior and experienced professionals who have a proven ability to review and investigate operational events in a comprehensive and thorough manner.”

“The professionalism and capabilities of these bodies were also recognized in the past by international bodies, including the ICC prosecutor,” she added.

Later on Monday, the IDF announced that the IDF's airstrike in Rafah would be investigated by the General Staff’s Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism.

Tomer-Yerushalmi stated that, to date, approximately 70 investigations have been launched by the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID) regarding incidents involving suspected criminal offenses by IDF soldiers.

These included “the allegations made regarding the detention conditions at the ‘Sde Teiman’ detention facility, and the deaths of detainees in IDF custody. We take these allegations very seriously and are working to see them through,” she said.

“The investigations also look into incidents in which uninvolved civilians were killed in operational circumstances; incidents of violence, property crimes and looting.”

She concluded her speech by highlighting the challenges Israel has faced during the war and praised the Israeli military's conduct.

“It's no secret; throughout this war, we encountered difficult dilemmas, which required hard decisions. I would like to say loud and clear: we did not hesitate to make these decisions, and we will not hesitate to make them, even in the future,” she said.

She said IDF has consistently been committed to following the rule of law, something which Israel takes pride in.

“Maintaining clear boundaries, even in war, more so during war, and enforcing the law when these boundaries were crossed - are a clear expression of the deep difference between us and our enemies. This is how we have operated in the IDF since the first day of the war, and we are proud of it.”

“Implementing the law and enforcing it in combat is not simple. However, according to the words of Judge Haim Cohn z”l, 'Everyone who ought to know should be aware that the rule of law in Israel will never succumb to the state’s enemies.'”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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