A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Israel PM asks justice minister to build defense against Gaza war crimes claims

[JURIST] Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website] on Thursday placed justice minister Daniel Friedman [official profile] in charge of defending Israel against war crimes charges stemming from the conflict in Gaza [BBC backgrounder]. Olmert appointed Friedman to head an inter-ministerial team to investigate [Ynet report] and form a legal defense against potential war crimes charges for the civilians and military personnel involved in Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza. The attacks have garnered international condemnation by the UN and the European Union [JURIST reports], and on Monday Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] accused Israel of war crimes [press release, JURIST report], citing the use of white phosphorous [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in the midst of a dense civilian population. Following the advocacy group's accusation, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] demanded [statement] on Tuesday that those responsible for bombing UN buildings in Palestinian territory be held responsible for using excessive force. Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak [official profile] explained in a statement that the government must give defense to those involved in the attacks, as they were following government orders in Operation Cast Lead.

Last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said that the ICC lacks jurisdiction [JURIST report] to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. Moreno-Ocampo's statement came after calls by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website] for the UN Security Council [official website] to refer Israel to the ICC for an investigation. Moreno-Ocampo said the court currently lacks jurisdiction over Israel because it is not a member state.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.