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Criminal Charges Placed against IDF General Ashkenazi

Life sentence requested by Turkish authorities



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A few days ago I published Hunting down Ashkenazi, where I said: “When the day comes it would be an important testimony in the trial of Barak and Ashkenazi for war crimes by the International Court of Justice.” That sentence cost me a record number of subscribers; yet, it may soon become reality. At the beginning of May 2012, Turkey’s Justice Ministry finished its probe on the IDF’s 2010 Freedom Flotilla raid. Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin then requested information from the country’s Foreign Ministry on several IDF soldiers; a fact reported by the Turkish Today’s Zaman. Yesterday, May 24, it was made public that criminal charges had been placed by Turkey against several IDF officers, demanding life sentences. Among them is former IDF Chief of Staff, General Gaby Ashkenazi.

Gabi Ashkenazi

Gabi Ashkenazi | Criminal Charges against former IDF Chief of Staff

Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit

Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit

On May 31, 2010, nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by IDF soldiers in a confrontation with Shayetet 13 naval commandos that boarded the Mavi Marmara in international waters. The ship was bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Israel established the Turkel Committee to conduct an investigation; expectedly, its biased report determined that Israel’s takeover of the flotilla had been legal in terms of international law, but criticized the IDF’s preparations to the flotilla arrival as well as the operation itself.

The IDF position was outrageous. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit addressed the Turkel Committee and claimed that the naval blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in 2007 was in accordance with international law, and that it was imposed due to pure military considerations and not as a part of economic warfare against Hamas. Showing disregard for the listeners intelligence, he then added: “Every step taken, be it part of classical warfare or economic warfare, aims to bring the other side to do what we want it to do.” Mr. Mendelblit, I am confused. Is there an economic warfare toward civilians or not? Mendelblit’s picture leaves no doubt: he is a Haredi Jew (notice his black kippa). As such, he studied the Talmud, meaning that he has at least a rudimentary understanding of logic. This wasn’t an unintentional mistake of a stupid man, but an attempt to mislead the public with carefully stated lies. In another part of his testimony, he said that “We have no desire to punish the civilian population” and “we won't fire in an unguided manner into a civilian population.” For those finding these statments dubious, he added “no one in the IDF would think to violate international law.” Mr. Mendelblit, did you bother to read the Goldstone Report? Or at least the Beit Oranim Transcript? The last is in Hebrew, it should be easy for you. Both speak of repeated and intentional attacks on civilians by the IDF and of systematic violations of international law by the IDF. The Beit Oranim Transcript is disturbing; it describes the cold-blooded assassination of grandmothers, and mothers and their children by IDF soldiers and officers, who then spoke about it in a inner IDF event that took place in Beit Oranim; the report was published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Given the circumstances and its content, there is no doubt that the Turkel Committee Report is void of any value. Israel cannot investigate its own crimes.

Mavi Marmara | May 22, 2010

Mavi Marmara | May 22, 2010

In early September 2011, the UN Palmer Report on the Gaza flotilla was published; it claimed that the IDF soldiers acted in self-defense, but used excessive force. Oddly enough, the self-defense of the ship crew and passengers was not properly accounted for by Mr. Palmer. In May 2012, the Turkish inquiry into the raid found that the raid was illegal. Turkish law allows for the trial of people accused of genocide or crimes against humanity even if the crimes are committed abroad; consequently, criminal charges have been placed against several of the IDF officers responsible for the mortal attack on the humanitarian convoy.

The Turkish government bases its charges—presented in a thick document of 144 pages—on the testimonies of around 600 people. 490 of them were on the attacked ship; the others are relatives of the killed. The government is asking ten life sentences for various IDF officers, including Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, then IDF Chief of Staff, Major General Eliezer Merom, then commander of the IDF’s Navy and Major General Amos Yadlin, then Head of AMAN, the IDF Intelligence Directorate. The next step would be the issuing of international arrest orders against the accused officers. Right now, their entrance into Turkish territory will lead to their arrest and trial.

Gabi Ashkenazi

Gabi Ashkenazi | Criminal Charges against former IDF Chief of Staff

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