Israeli probes into killings of Palestinians at Gaza Great March of Return remain unfinished

Israeli probes into killings of Palestinians at Gaza Great March of Return remain unfinished
April figures from Israel's military revealed it had looked into 237 cases, though 91 of these were yet to be concluded at that time.
3 min read
30 June, 2021
Then-Chief of the General Staff Gadi Eisenkot created the group conducting inquiries [Dan Porges/Getty]

Israel's inquiries into its soldiers' role in the deaths of Palestinians at the Gaza Great March of Return border protest has still yet to conclude, three years since the rallies began.

April figures from the Israeli military revealed it had looked at 237 cases of Palestinian deaths, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

While inquiries have finished in relation to 146 of these, which is more than half, 91 are yet to be concluded.

The Great March of Return protests ran for two years from 2018 to last March, when Covid-19 disruption was intensifying.

Every week during that period, Gazan demonstrators gathered at the frontier with Israel to demand the Jewish state stops its crippling blockade.

The army group conducting the inquiries was created by then-Chief of the General Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

It is considering the specific situations and deciding if they should refer them for military police to officially look at.

Numbers given to rights organisation Yesh Din indicate that 36 such military police inquiries were launched by the close of April.

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Israel's army told Haaretz this number does not include cases addressed after that point.

Indictments have been lodged against two members of the Jewish state's armed forces.

Investigations were concluded with no issues identified in 95 cases with many others remaining under consideration and pending determination by Military Advocate General Sharon Afek.

Afek will decide whether military police inquiries will take place.

He has asked that inquiries be launched in relation to three incidents where the team founded by Eisenkot played no part.

One of the indictments issued against a member of the Israeli army accuses him of shooting at a boy, aged 14, who started to climb the border fence.

A detailed map of Gaza under Israeli siege
Click here to enlarge image (November 2019)

It was claimed this was in violation of the shooting rules without the consent of the relevant commander.

The boy died.

In the end, a deal was reached, finding the accused guilty of "exceeding his authority to the point of endangering life or health", Haaretz said.

He received a suspended jail term, was given 30 days on "military base work" and lost his rank, becoming a private again.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Haaretz the probes into the incidents are occurring in the appropriate manner and without any interference.

"These investigations are particularly complex, partly because the events took place in an area beyond Israel’s control, and due to the lack of cooperation and the failure to transfer information from the Gaza side."

They asserted: "In some cases, the examination and investigation procedures have not yet been completed. This is due to the complexity of the incidents, the multiplicity of incidents, and the need for in-depth examination before reaching conclusions.

"In the vast majority of cases that have been investigated, it was found that the [Israeli army] soldiers acted lawfully and that there were no grounds for legal action."

Other Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces', including outside Gaza.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Red Crescent related that a 15-year-old boy had died after being struck by their bullets.

The official Wafa news agency reported that the Israelis began shooting at "a public protest against Israel's construction of a colonial settlement outpost" close to Beita in the Nablus Governorate.