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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Israeli troops to receive legal assistance

Israel provides full backing for troops involved in Gaza war
Sun, 25 Jan 2009 16:12:56
Shireen Yassin, Press TV, Al-Quds

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 13:57:30 GMT | PressTV

Israel's cabinet has endorsed a resolution to support its army officers against possible war crimes prosecution in foreign courts.

The move comes amid speculations that Tel Aviv will face a wave of legal cases over alleged war crimes committed during 22-day Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Under the resolution which was proposed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel is committed to providing full moral and legal support to any soldier or army officer faced with legal action in foreign courts.

Earlier in the year an assessment made by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced that Israel will probably be faced with a series of lawsuits abroad.

UN expert Richard Falk has also been suggesting that Israel may have breached basic humanitarian rules and international laws in its three-week-long military operation "against an essentially defenseless population" in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli onslaught in the costal sliver has claimed more than 1,300 Palestinian lives, including at least 460 children, while leaving as many as 5,000 others wounded.

"The endorsement will ensure that since we sent out soldiers to carry out Operation Cast Lead … [we] will give soldiers and commanders backing in the face of any external accusations or internal self-flagellation," Barak said.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert however claimed "Following the operation (Cast Lead), terror groups are trying to hurt us in other ways and the legal arena is one of them."

Olmert had earlier tasked a special team, headed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, to deal with possible lawsuits against the military commanders.

Arrest warrants had previously been issued against senior Israeli officials over their reported war crimes and the Israeli Foreign Ministry has recommended several officials not to travel to some Western countries in a bid to avoid arrest.

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