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With eye on ICC, Israel state comptroller whitewashes 2014 Gaza war conduct

Israel's state comptroller, the government watchdog agency, issued a report criticising some aspects of the 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip yesterday, but the conclusions seemed largely designed to influence international opinion about the military's conduct.

The special report, by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, related to "international law as it relates to Israeli combat operations in ['Operation Protective Edge']", reported Haaretz.

The report concluded that the Israeli military's targeting and internal investigations complied with its obligations under international law, with Haaretz noting that "many of its conclusions read like a rebuttal to international criticism of Israeli actions in the Strip during the war".

In a sign of the international public relations focus of the report, it was published simultaneously in English, as well as Hebrew.

According to Haaretz, "the comptroller's report on the legal issues treads pretty lightly and its criticism of the army and the political leadership is limited".

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The report does, however, include illuminative insights; the Israeli military spokesperson, for example, "explicitly told the comptroller that due to scarce resources, the IDF [army] might not be able to overcome the gap in its intelligence that helps avoid targeting civilian targets".

The Office of the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is currently undertaking a preliminary examination of allegations of war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including incidents that occurred during the 2014 Gaza war.

The latest state comptroller report is designed, in the words of Haaretz, to give the message that "there is no reason for international legal bodies to launch legal proceedings against senior Israeli officials because Israel deals with its exceptions as required".

AP reported that "human rights groups criticised Wednesday's report, accusing the comptroller of whitewashing more serious violations of human rights".

Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said: "The Comptroller missed an opportunity to address serious allegations of violations of the laws of war during the 2014 operation in Gaza."

"His review of the military's conduct toward civilians is mostly limited to quoting Israeli officials reassuring each other that they are taking adequate measures to avoid disproportionate harm."

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