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Former IDF lawyer finds UN report on Gaza war 'relatively balanced'

Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, the former head of the IDF’s Department of International Law, tells Al-Monitor in an interview that though the UN report on the Gaza war was fairly impartial, it cannot be used as the basis for a criminal indictment.
An Israeli soldier stands at a staging area after crossing back into Israel from Gaza July 28, 2014. Israel eased its assaults in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave declined sharply on Monday, the military said, with both the United States and United Nations calling for a durable ceasefire. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS) - RTR40CN3
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Just hours after the United Nations Human Rights Council released its findings June 22, attorney Col. (Res.) Pnina Sharvit-Baruch offered Al-Monitor this assessment: “In terms of a criminal indictment, Israel has no reason to worry about the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The UNHRC report on Operation Protective Edge didn’t investigate the events on a criminal level, so it cannot be used as evidence. Furthermore, Israel can provide its own explanations for any claims that it presents.”

Israel had been preparing itself for the release of the report for the past few days. As was expected, the report was met with harsh criticism from the right. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the UN Commission of Inquiry’s findings to be ignored, since the report it produced was “biased.” The chairman of HaBayit HaYehudi, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, claimed that the report had “blood on its hands.” The attacks on the report were not limited to the right. Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid, former ministers who were members of the security Cabinet during the conflict in the south, spoke out against the UN commission’s comparison of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to the Hamas terrorist organization. Lapid went so far as to accuse the commission of hypocrisy, stating cynically, “We will not risk the lives of Israeli soldiers and civilians for the sake of three lawyers from the United Nations. … In the end, they accuse us of knowing how to prevent Israeli soldiers from dying, so we are not prepared to die just to please some lawyer sitting in the United Nations."

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