The purpose of the military prosecution service, at whose head stands the chief prosecutor, is to effect the enforcement of the rule of law by means of monopolizing the rigors of the law against offenders who are delivered to military judgment. Such individuals include: IDF soldiers who are transferred to the jurisdiction of the military courts of justice in accordance with the Military Jurisdiction Act (1955) and the residents of Judea and Samaria, who are put on trial by the military courts which have been established in the area, by virtue of the provisions of international law and security legislation.
Role and responsibilties
With the completion of organizational changes to the MAG Corps, its agenda was altered in relation to all that concerns the military prosecutor's internal structure. Today, it is constructed in the following manner:
The Chief Military Prosecutor
The Chief Military Prosecutor commands military prosecutions, and hosts professional guides to various bodies, in such areas as the reasons for inquiry in criminal military law. Amongst his powers, he is authorized to order the application of appeals regarding decisions of the regional military court and in the appropriate legal cases, even to submit requests for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court regarding verdicts that were handed down by the military appeal court. Moreover, auxiliary to the chief military prosecutor, the attorney general participates in the process of petitioning the supreme court of justice, in diverse areas connected to the activities of the military prosecution service.
The Chief Military Prosecutor is the advisor of the MAG and his deputy, in lieu of decisions relating to criminal law. Likewise, he provides legal advice to the Intelligence Corps and the investigative branch of the Military Police regarding criminal and security matters. He also represents the MAG Corps specifically, and the army generally, before civilian bodies in discussions concerning the enforcement of the rule of law in the IDF.
Prosecutorial command teams
Enforce the law in respect of soldiers who have committed a varied range of crimes. Three prosecutorial teams are allocated authority according to the regional jurisdiction the accused belongs to (there is a great deal of overlap amongst the commands and teams): the northern, southern and central command (which also includes the General Staff's jurisdiction and the home front). The teams also examine the treatment of investigated cases under their jurisdiction and make decisions pertaining to the required legal responses, whether they are: submitting indictments to the military courts, instruction concerning disciplinary law or closing an investigated case without adopting a legal stance. If an indictment is submitted, the team continues to manage the criminal process in court, on a step by step basis.
Most of the work is involved in the war against illegal narcotics -individual use and dealing, sexual offences/ harassment, theft of military equipment /other property, and the illegal use of fire arms etc. In part of the cases, the facts necessitate that prosecutors address exciting and fundamental areas of the law, for example the extent of the right of suspects to remain silent during investigation and under which circumstances the hierarchical military jurisdictions can alter an indictment for the sake of pursuing justice etc.
Legal services special branch
Under the framework of organizational modification, a new task force was established named 'destination focus' concentrating on the following areas – intelligence, illegal narcotics, litigation, detention, appeal, theory and legislation. The team leader is an army attorney who also acts as the chief prosecutor's deputy. The branch submits appeals, according to the chief military prosecutor's instructions regarding decisions and sentences delivered at first instance, and compiles data for the treatment of cases which convene at special court sessions (presided by officers holding the rank of lieutenant Colonel and above).
In addition, the team assists the chief military prosecutor in formulating responses to requests for permission to appeal before the Supreme Court and in handling petitions to the High Court of Justice, on issues regarding prosecution within the 1967 armistice boundaries (the green line).
This task force is also responsible for consolidating the military prosecutor's position to the MAG deputy vis-à-vis defendants' requests to cancel proceedings directed against them, and presenting the MAG's position to the committee examining punishment, which meets approximately once a month to discuss matters concerning prisoners who have been sentenced to a custodial sentence of over one year in duration.
The Legal Service for Operational matters
This team's focus is the product of organizational procedures. It deals with the legal handling of issues that are characterized as aspects of operational and criminal law. For example, the team examines military investigations concerning incidents in which IDF soldiers were killed in circumstances that do not demand criminal inquiries. In such situations the team confirms the investigator's findings, which are then disclosed to the deceased's family for study.
It is also the team's responsibility to supervise the organizational treatment of human rights complaints in the territories of Judea and Samaria, charging IDF soldiers with unlawful conduct where appropriate, and when necessary, initiating the opening of criminal investigations against suspects.
The team examines investigated cases concerning the various training accidents that occur in the IDF and participates in the formulation of regulation procedures for opening fire in the different regions.
Attorney for absentees and deserters
This team is responsible for the legal treatment of those obligated to fulfill compulsory military service in the state of Israel. Whether it is criminal proceedings before the military courts or involvement in disciplinary procedure measures, the team "destination focus" deals generally with those violations which shorten service: absenting, draft evading and deserting.
In 2007, the team addressed over 7000 cases that dealt with offences concerning absence from service. Prior to the organizational changes, legal treatment of army deserters was conducted in conjunction with the prosecutorial command teams, however today, as mentioned above, it is centrally comprised.
The Traffic Domain
The MAG Corps meticulously enforces the norms which regulate traffic on the roads. This, amongst other things, requires strict devotion in the IDF, due to the young age of many drivers, the unique nature of army vehicles, operational dangers and the other characteristics that distinguish military activity. This area, which was established under the organizational rearrangements, is intended to apply general aspects of legal knowledge that concern the enforcement of traffic law.
The unit is responsible for the legal treatment of cases involving road accidents, (many of which result in loss of life), traffic offences, driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, taking a military vehicle without a permit etc. The unit's officers accompany the legal treatment within the military courts, traffic tribunals and when appropriate the district courts (mostly for appeals to the military court of appeals).
The Prosecutor of Judea and Samaria
The prosecution functions to assist the enforcement of law in the region by submitting indictments and legal proceedings against inhabitants accused of perpetrating offences contrary to the law and regional security legislation. It also acts on behalf of the military commander in administrative detention proceeding.
The department is divided into five geographical and topical teams – two criminals teams at first instance (the Samaria and the Judea divisions), a criminal team for appeals proceedings and the administrative detentions desk (divided between the Ofer and Ketziot Prosecutions) that deal with managing deliberations concerning administrative detentions and also appeals proceedings. The Prosecutor of Judea and Samaria essentially addresses the treatment of cases which concern terror offences and order violations which are illegal in Israel in addition to other criminal offences.
The Prosecution's major areas of practice are as follows:
- Addressing petitions submitted to the High Court of Justice in Criminal matters.
- Closing inquiries against suspects.
- .Attending to the release of prisoners
- Dealing with requests concerning the reduction of sentences.
- Managing civilian prosecutions.
- .Providing permission for the detention of minors