[JURIST] Two high-ranking Israeli military officers have been disciplined for firing shells into a populated area of the Gaza strip during last year's Operation Cast Lead [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], it was revealed Monday. The information was contained in a 46-page report [materials] presented to the UN on Friday describing Israel's role in the January 2009 Gaza conflict [JURIST news archive]. According to the report, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] fired several artillery shells near populated areas in the Tel el-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, destroying a UN compound and a Palestinian hospital. The UN maintains [press release] that the compound was hit with white phosphorus [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] shells, while the report concludes that the "use of this weapon in the operation was consistent with Israel's obligations under international law." The two officers involved have since been disciplined for "exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others," but the Military Advocate General will not pursue a criminal investigation, and the officers will keep their rank and pay.
In November, the UN General Assembly [official website] adopted a resolution [JURIST report] giving Israel and Palestine three months to conduct independent investigations into possible war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict. Earlier this week, Hamas [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] reported to the UN that its independent investigation had absolved Palestinian forces of any wrongdoing. The UN General Assembly has expressed support for the Goldstone Report [text, PDF], the result of a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] fact-finding mission, which accused both IDF and Hamas fighters of war crimes during the conflict. In October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official profile] announced [JURIST report] the formation of a task force to respond to the Goldstone Report. The formation of the task force came just two weeks after the UNHRC passed a resolution officially endorsing [JURIST report] the report's findings.