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Reports: Israeli Military to Consult Legal Advisers During Future Conflicts


Published reports in Israel say the country's military has decided to consult more closely with legal advisers about how it conducts future offensives.

The reports say Israel's military wants to ensure the legality of its operations and avoid a repeat of international criticism of its war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip one year ago.

The reports say Israeli military chief Gabi Ashkenazi has ordered his staff to consult with legal experts during the course of offensives, not just in the planning stage. They say Israeli military officers also will receive more intensive training in the rules of war and international law.

U.N. investigators led by South African judge Richard Goldstone issued a report last year accusing both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the conflict.

Since then, Israeli political and military officials have canceled trips to Britain to avoid potential arrest on war crimes charges filed by pro-Palestinian activists.

In other developments, Israeli officials say Defense Minister Ehud Barak has received dozens of death threats from Israeli ultranationalists in recent weeks.

Ultranationalists have reacted angrily to Barak's enforcement of limits on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Many fear the 10-month slowdown imposed by the government last November will lead to the disbanding of settlements on land the Palestinians want for a state.

Officials say Israel's internal Shin Bet security service is investigating the death threats against Barak and has reinforced his security detail. In 1995, an ultranationalist Jew opposed to peacemaking with the Palestinians assassinated then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Meanwhile, an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed a Palestinian militant and wounded three others Tuesday. The Israeli military says it launched the raid against a group of militants who were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

A Palestinian militant group says one of its commanders, Jihad Smairi, was killed in the air strike in the town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The Popular Resistance Committees had claimed responsibility for firing a mortar into Israel on Monday.

The Gaza-Israel border region has been largely quiet since Israel ended its offensive against Hamas last January.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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