Israel did not commit war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Israel did not intentionally harm civilians or Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.
IDF guidelines strictly call for the prevention of harm to uninvolved civilians. Allegations that individual Israeli soldiers acted unethically or illegally during Israel’s military operations in Gaza were carefully investigated and legal action was taken against soldiers found to have committed violations, including criminal indictments.
Many base the charge of war crimes on the 2009 Goldstone Report, the United Nations Human Rights Council-commissioned report investigating Israel’s Operation in Gaza. The report accused Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Operation through a deliberate policy to target civilians. The report further alleged that Israeli government and civil society would be unable or unwilling to properly investigate charges of military abuse. Israel vigorously denied those charges.
In April 2011, the lead author of the report, Justice Richard Goldstone, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes.”, stating: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” Justice Goldstone withdrew the report’s most serious claim that the Israeli Defense Forces intentionally targeted civilians during their operations in Gaza. The op-ed further commended Israel’s investigations into charges of abuse. As Justice Goldstone concluded, “the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report…indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”
It should also be noted that many of those who accuse the IDF or individual Israeli soldiers of war crimes believe that military action can never be justified, and do not provide guidelines for what they would consider the justified use of force in the context of a state battling a terrorist organization entrenched in a densely populated area.