Palestinians are never taken seriously in Israel when they accuse Israelis of brutality, though they suffer them systematically. Israel has stepped up its contempt for the world community following the Gaza war, leading to what The Times called "a crisis of isolation."
Now that Israeli soldiers who took part in the Gaza war are leveling the accusations, against themselves, essentially, the Israeli military can't ignore the calls anymore. So there'll be an investigation. There may even be a commission, the way there was after the 1982 Sabra-Shatila massacre in Beirut, the way there was after the 2006 Lebanon war, both times resulting in biting criticism of those in charge.
But so what? First off, the investigation the military is promising is to be internal. No independent investigation is being proposed. If it's not for outside organizations "meddling" in Israeli affairs, perhaps the Israeli government should listen to its own people: no less than 11 Israeli human rights organizations on Friday called for the Israeli attorney general to reconsider his refusal to launch an independent inquiry. The groups, as one of them, B'Tselem, notes, remind the attorney general of the "inadequacy of internal military investigations," an inadequacy underlined by the military's response to the week's revelations:
The Military Advocate General only ordered the opening of an investigation by the Military Criminal Investigation Division following the publication of the Haaretz story, three weeks after the relevant materials reached the Chief of the General Staff. This tardiness follows a pattern of failures to investigate suspicions of serious crimes and illegitimate officer orders. Such partial investigation represents only a fraction of the necessary attention into this matter and raises suspicions that the norms of whitewashing serious crimes have spread across all ranks of the army.The Israeli human rights groups include the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Bimkom, B'tselem, Gisha, Hamoked, The Public Committee Against Torture, Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights, Adalah, and Itach Ė Women Lawyers for Social Justice.
Second, even assuming an independent investigation were to take place, the official soul-searching puts a nice sheen of accountability on the atrocities, but the exercise isn't not stopping anything. The Gaza war, its disproportionate cruelty, its enormous death toll (I've said it before but will say it again, because it bears repeating at every turn: As many Palestinians were killed in 22 days in the Gaza assault as Israelis killed in 22 years of Palestinian uprisings--in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) carries the stink of an additional, implied atrocity: familiarity. We've seen all this before. We've seen it in Lebanon, several times.
That Israel agonized over what it owned up to there made no difference. We're seeing it again. And it's embittering to have to say it, but inevitable, so long as nothing changes: we'll see it again sooner or later. If not in Gaza then in Lebanon. If not in Lebanon then in the West Bank. If not in the West Bank, then in Gaza yet again.
This isnít stalemate. It's willful folly. And it continues.
- Waltz With Hamas: Israeli Atrocities in Gaza
- The Crazy War
- How Israel Boosted Hamas in the 70s
- Guide to the Israel-Hamas Conflict
- What Is Israel's Winograd Commission Investigating the 2006 War?
- Analysis: The Winograd Commission Report on Israel's 2006 War in Lebanon
- Summary Findings of the Winograd Commission