Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, said Tuesday that the military is conducting investigations into possible war crimes during the January 2009 war on Gaza.
Ashkenazi was qouted by the Israeli online daily Haartez as saying ‘Our criminal investigation division is in the midst of checking 45 complaints.’
He added. ‘I invite all Palestinians to testify if they have complaints. As of now, 60 Palestinians have delivered their testimonies.’
The Israeli offensive, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, started on December 27th 2008 and ended on January 18th.
The Israeli army Commander defended his troops against the UN commissioned report last month that accused Israel as well as the Hamas movement which controls Gaza of committing war crimes. He said ‘ I am not leading an army of criminals’.
Ashkenazi admitted that during the 23 days long offensive troops may have hurt civilians. ‘Because of the nature of the battlefield… we innocently hurt civilians as well, just like we hurt our very own soldiers and officers,’ Ashkenazi told Israeli media’.
Cast Lead offensive claimed the lives of at least 1,500 Palestinians and left 6,000 others injured.16 Israelis, 14 soldiers, and two civilians were killed during the operation.