*ADDS ISRAELI ARMY REACTION.
By Kaamil Ahmed
JERUSALEM (AA) – Israel’s most prominent human rights group said it has given up on referring alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers to the military legal system, accusing it of being a “whitewash” for the Israeli occupation.
A report released by B’Tselem on Wednesday said that after 25 years of referring cases in which Israeli soldiers have harmed Palestinians, it will no longer do so.
The rights group said that, even though the system operating in the occupied West Bank was already restricted because it is focused on individual soldiers rather than those who issue orders, “it makes no attempt to fulfill even this limited mandate”.
The group said that from more than 700 cases B’Tselem brought to the attention of the Military Advocate-General since the second Intifada began in 2000, there were only 25 instances of soldiers being charged.
“This is the system that officials bring as proof – to Israel and the world – of their claim that the military does everything in its power to investigate complaints against soldiers responsible for harming Palestinians and to prosecute the offenders,” the group said.
“B’Tselem’s cooperation with the military investigation and enforcement systems has not achieved justice, instead lending legitimacy to the occupation regime and aiding to whitewash it,” the statement added.
In response, the Israeli army criticized B’Tselem’s report, saying it is “biased and does not reflect on reality”.
“The IDF (Israeli army) thoroughly checks and investigates any and all claims of misconduct, including those from ‘B’tselem’ and many other organizations and will continue to act transparently in order to arrive at the truth,” the Israeli army said in a statement emailed to Anadolu Agency.
In late March, a B’Tselem volunteer filmed Israeli soldier Elor Azaria killing a Palestinian who had already been injured and was, at the time, unarmed, after an alleged stabbing attempt in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
The video led to manslaughter charges being brought against Azaria and a public debate over the behavior of Israeli soldiers.