The Israeli anti-Occupation NGO, Yesh Gvul, filed suit in Israel’s Supreme Court ( and Galey Tzahal here, both Hebrew sources), to prevent the planned appointment of Yoav Galant to be next IDF chief of staff. The group charges him as ground commander of Operation Cast Lead, with likely war crimes, saying he is “suspected of grave violations of international law.” So long as these incidents are not properly investigated, Yesh Gvul contends, Galant is not fit to be chief of staff. Consequently, the group demands an objective, external investigation of the charges.
Yesh Gvul adds that until this happens, Galant will be hounded throughout the length of his appointment by charges and investigations by international judicial bodies which will prevent him from properly fulfilling his role. Today’s news brings word that former Shin Bet director and current MK Avi Dichter cancelled a planned speech in Spain for fear he will be arrested on an international arrest warrant. He asked for assurance from the Spanish he would not be arrested and they could not assure him. In an Israeli context, the wages of the sins of Occupation are an international arrest warrant.
It should also be noted that yesterday I reported that Galant lobbied heavily against a military investigation of Givati brigade commander Col. Ilan Malka for his role in approving the airstrike that killed nearly 30 members of the extended al-Samouni clan in January 2009. Galant appears to have been overruled as the military prosecutor general has opened an investigation into the incident.
I know what happened to the U.S. generals who lied and tried to impede an investigation to determine who Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan. Though one was Stanley McChrystal, whose career was not damaged, others didn’t get off as easily. So if the IDF were any sort of accountable military organization, Galant would run the risk of damaging his career by hindering a legitimate military investigation. Since the IDF is nothing of the sort, there’s no chance either Yesh Gvul or the High Court will stand in his way. But it is good that the issue is being raised in a credible legal venue so that Israelis and the world will be forced to examine the issue, even if only for a second or two (in the case of the Israelis).