Turkel commission recommends changes to war crimes assessments

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Defense Forces’ investigations into war crimes claims meet international standards, according to an Israeli commission, which also recommended changes to the ways these crimes are assessed.

The Turkel Commission, formed in the wake of the deaths of nine Turkish activists on board the Gaza-bound Turkish protest vessel the Mavi Marmara in May 2010, presented its 1,000-page report to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. It is the commission’s second report. The first, in January 2011, found that Israel’s Naval blockade of Gaza and its raid on the Marmara were both legal under international law.

The second report dealt with recommendations to improve the way Israel’s security forces and legal system investigates possible war crimes. 

The report found problems with the security and defense establishment’s decision-making process that led to the decision to board the Marmara in international waters.

The commission recommended forming special investigative units for operational incidents in the military, instead of relying on internal inquiries in the particular military unit.   

The panel also recommended that the Shin Bet security service videotape all interrogations and that complaints against the Shin Bet be investigated by the police instead of internally.

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