The Ciechanover Commission was appointed to review the recommendations made in the second report by the Turkel Commission, and was tasked with suggesting practical steps for implementing the Turkel Commission recommendations. The Ciechanover Commission published a report in September 2015 that fails to fulfill its purpose and does not help improve Israel’s mechanisms for investigating alleged war crimes according to international law. This is Yesh Din’s conclusion from analyzing the Ciechanover Commission’s recommendations, set forth in a position paper published in October 2015.
Following the May 2010 flotilla incident (the Mavi Marmara), former High Court Justice Jacob Turkel was appointed to chair a public commission that would look into the flotilla incident itself, as well as Israel’s mechanisms for examining and investigating allegations and claims of violations of the laws of armed conflict according to international law.
The Turkel Commission report found that: “[T]here are grounds for amending the examination and investigation mechanisms and […] in several areas there are grounds for changing the accepted policy.” It also found that, “certain accepted practices – that are appropriate in themselves – should be enshrined in express written guidelines that are made publicly available.”
The Ciechanover Commission was established in January 2014 in order to recommend practical steps for implementing the Turkel Commission’s recommendations. However, as Yesh Din’s position paper demonstrates, most of the recommendations remained general instead of practical. The Commission avoided making concrete, practicable recommendations related to the human resources and budgeting requirements necessary for implementing the Turkel recommendations, and some of its recommendations lack timetables and stages for implementation. Without tackling these practical aspects, the various agencies involved will not be able to carry through the recommendations.
The Ciechanover Commission also disregarded the recommendations made by the Turkel Commission regarding the need to bring the legal situation in Israel on par with the standards of international law on the criminalization of war crimes and the responsibility of commanders and civilian superiors. The Ciechanover Commission restricted its work to advising that the Attorney General promote legislative measures focusing on torture and crimes against humanity, and blatantly refrained from advocating the adoption of domestic legislation defining the offenses of war crimes in a manner that conforms with international law.