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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Seminar in Algeria seeks to bring Israeli leaders to justice

Sat, 28 Feb 2009 19:56:21
Salim Mirouh, Press TV, Algiers

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spain probes Israel's 2002 Gaza bombing

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 19:10:45 GMT | PressTV

Judge Fernando Andreu
Spain's Judge Fernando Andreu is set to go ahead with an investigation into crimes against humanity by top Israeli military officials.

The decision came after Andreu studied translated documents he received from the Israeli embassy, revealing Tel Aviv has not launched any legal procedure concerning a 2002 bombing of Gaza.

Andreu agreed last month to pursue a complaint of crimes against humanity against seven senior Israeli military figures over the bombing.

The prospect of the investigation, which is in line with Spain's assumption of the principle of universal jurisdiction in alleged cases of crimes against humanity, genocide, and terrorism, has enraged the Tel Aviv government.

The probe by the Spanish judge could be suspended only if the alleged crimes are subject to a legal procedure in the country involved.

Andreu now plans to officially notify former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and six senior military officials of the inquiry, and also seek witness testimony from Palestinians, AFP quoted sources as saying.

The investigation will look into a complaint by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights concerning the Israeli assassination top Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh in an air strike on July 22, 2002 on Gaza City.

At least 14 civilians - mainly infants and children - fell victim to the attack which also left 150 Palestinians wounded.

In January, Andreu said the attack in a densely-populated area "showed signs of constituting a crime against humanity."

Israel's current Defense Minister Ehud Barak has rejected the complaint as "delirious" and vowed to do "everything possible to get the investigation dismissed."

In a bid to alleviate Tel Aviv's rage, Spanish Foreign minister Miguel Moratinos immediately informed his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, on Jan. 30 of plans to limit the country's powers.

Spanish judges can independently launch war crimes investigations against foreign officials. In 1998 a Spanish judge practiced his power, issuing an arrest warrant for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who was accordingly etained in Britain.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

British government sued over arms sales to Israel

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 20:19:27

Fareena Alam, Press TV, London

Monday, February 23, 2009

Iran to host International conference on Palestine

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 15:29:09 GMT

Iran aims to follow up on the prosecution of Israeli war criminals during an international conference on Palestine in Tehran.
Iran will host an international conference in support of Palestine, seeking trials of Israeli war criminals involved in the Gaza assault.

The conference, which is the fourth Iranian conference on Palestine, will meet under the banner 'Palestine: Manifestation of Resistance, Gaza: Victim of Crimes.'

The conference will be chaired by Iran's Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran on March 4-5, Secretary General of the International Conference of Quds and Support for Rights of the Palestinian Nation, Ali-Akbar Mohtashamipour announced.

The event aims at condemning the war crimes of Israeli leaders and their crimes against humanity during the 23-day assault on the impoverished and besieged region of Gaza in December 2008 through January 2009, Mohtashamipour added.

"According to a bill approved by Majlis, the parliament is obliged to take action in support of the Palestinian people's rights by holding international conferences," he noted.

The Israeli army launched an all-out military heavy offensive against the Gaza Strip, killing over 1, 300 people - including women and children - and wounding 5, 450 others.

Israel's offensive against Gaza met with severe international criticism around the globe. The Israeli assault led to the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, all of which Israel has the responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Prominent figures of the international community, including the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference as well as renowned international lawyers have been invited to the Conference.

"According to legal and international regulations and due processes, Israeli war criminals could face arrest warrants in every corner of the world," the Iranian official stressed.

According to Mohtashamipour, Iran is taking steps to set up a court for the prosecution of the Israeli warlords. Iran's Prosecutor General, Ayatollah Dorri Najafabadi, is tasked with overseeing the process.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are among the officials accused of war crimes.

Iran hosted its first conference on Palestine to commemorate the first anniversary of the Palestinian uprising (Intifadha) in 1988. The second and third conferences were held in 1998.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Turkish rights group to press charges against Israel over Gaza

Sun, 22 Feb 2009 18:54:59
Mehdi Gholizadeh, Press TV, Ankara

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Israel WMD use in Gaza alarms NAM

Thu, 19 Feb 2009 18:41:01 GMT | PressTV

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has condemned the use of "chemical weapons" by Israel in its recent operations against the Gaza Strip.

The NAM condemnation came after Tel Aviv was charged with the use of the controversial white phosphorous -- also known by the military as WP or Willie Pete -- shells during its recent three-week war on the Gaza Strip.

White phosphorus, classified as a chemical weapon by US intelligence, is used in munitions to mark enemy targets and to produce smoke for concealing troop movement. It can also be used as an incendiary device to firebomb enemy positions.

If particles of ignited white phosphorus land on a person's skin, they burn right through flesh to the bone. Toxic phosphoric acid can also be released into wounds, risking phosphorus poisoning.

Exposure to white phosphorus smoke in the air can also cause liver, kidney, heart, lung and bone damage and can even lead to death.

In a statement issued on Thursday at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, the 114-member group called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) "to do its duty in this regard" and to help the Gazan victims of the Israeli aggression.

Addressing the conference, Geneva-based Iranian diplomat Ali-Reza Moayyeri urged the global community and the OPCW to launch an investigation into the use of illegal weapons by Israel in Gaza.

He further called on international organizations to step up pressure on Israel to halt its "weapons of mass destruction program".

International organizations and human rights groups continue to voice concern over Tel Aviv's use of forbidden arms, such as depleted uranium and white phosphorus, in the war on Gaza which has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,330 Palestinians and the injury of thousands of others.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lab tests verify white phosphorus in Gaza soil .

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 13:23:39 GMT | PressTV

Israeli soldiers prepare artillery shells on
January 9. The pale
blue 155mm rounds,
marked with the
designation M825A1,
are US-made white
phosphorus munitions.
Laboratory tests conducted by a Turkish university on Gaza soil have confirmed the use of phosphorus bombs by Israel in the coastal sliver.

Istanbul's Yildiz Technical University conducted the tests on soil transferred by the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER).

The tests yielded results confirming the existence of white phosphorus particles in the samples, the daily Vakit reports.

White phosphorus, classified as a 'chemical weapon' by US intelligence, is an incendiary material that causes horrific burns, severe injuries or death when it comes in contact with humans.

During Israel's 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip, a fierce controversy broke out over the alleged use of white phosphorus -- also known by the military as WP or Willie Pete -- by the Israeli army.

The legality of the toxic chemical agent is a matter of debate, with many groups recognizing it as an illegal weapon, while international law allows its usage solely for smoke-screening.

Israel maintains that its actions were being conducted under international laws, despite contradictory reports of the Israeli claim.

Following the laboratory results in Turkey, MAZLUM-DER filed a criminal complaint against Israel at Istanbul's Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday.

The Turkish human rights group MAZLUM-DER has also accused Israel of directly attacking civilians "with the aim of annihilating them" and employing internationally-banned weapons in the process.

"The suspects, who wanted to wipe out the Palestinian people through systematic attacks, have committed genocide and crimes against humanity," said a petition by the human rights group.

On Sunday, an international conference in Morocco called for Israeli civil and military officials to be sued for "war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Some 5,700 Iranian lawyers have also filed a compliant against 24 Israeli leaders and commanders over the alleged Israeli war crimes.

International organizations and human rights groups remain concerned over Tel Aviv's use of forbidden arms, such as depleted uranium and white phosphorus, in the Gaza war.

The 23-day Israeli onslaught on Gaza left at least 1,330 Palestinians -- including at least 460 children -- dead and thousands others injured.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UN moves to charge Israel with war crimes

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 07:50:52 GMT      |    PressTV

Ethical and moral questions linger even among Israeli peace activists over the destruction and civilian deaths wrought by the immense Tel Aviv firepower employed in Gaza.
The United Nations moves to set up a commission to look into Israeli war crimes and respond to its human rights violations in Gaza.

After the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) compound became the target of GPS-guided Israeli mortars on January 15, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "in the strongest terms this outrageous attack" and called for an inquiry into suspected Israeli war crimes.

"I strongly demand a thorough investigation and punishment for those responsible," he told reporters in Beirut after the attack.

Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, who currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, said late on Monday that Ban had told a closed-door briefing in the council that the UN had set up a commission as a preliminary step to look into Israeli damage to UN premises.

Several diplomats have reported that the commission would be led by the former British secretary-general of human rights group Amnesty International, Ian Martin.

Takasu said the commission would later report back to the Security Council, which would then decide how to respond.

Diplomats have expressed skepticism as to whether a Security Council inquiry would take place, saying they thought it unlikely that Israel's ally the United States, which has a veto in the council, would allow the 15-nation body to adopt the report as its own.

The January 15 incident, which has prompted the UN inquiry, was the third shelling of UN shelters by Israeli fire in its war on the Palestinian territory.

UN spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the shelling of the school happened while Israel had been given the coordinates of the building and the compound was also clearly marked with UN flags and logos.

"The UN compound in Gaza had only that morning become a makeshift shelter for hundreds of Gaza City residents seeking sanctuary from relentless Israeli shelling," said an unnamed UN official in Gaza.

The UN move to launch a probe into suspected Israeli war crimes comes after the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague announced earlier last week that a "preliminary analysis" was launched to review the military conduct of Israeli forces participating in the offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The ICC prosecutor's office said it had received 210 communications from individuals and non-governmental organizations regarding the recent events in Gaza.

The criminal case is expected to focus on the Israeli atrocities, including charges of using disproportionate force, white phosphorous bombs and depleted uranium in the densely-populated area.

Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza -- aimed at toppling the democratically-elected government of Hamas in the Palestinian territory -- left nearly 1,300 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, according to medical sources.

The Israeli assault led to the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Earlier during the war, members of a Norwegian triage medical team in Gaza which worked at the Shifa Hospital in the war-torn Palestinian territory said Israel had turned Gaza into a research laboratory to test out its new "extremely nasty" weapons on Palestinians.

"There's a very strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons," Dr. Mads Gilbert told reporters at Oslo's Gardermoen airport upon his return home after the war.

"We are not soft-skinned when it comes to war injuries, but these amputations are really extremely nasty and for many of the patients not survivable," Gilbert's colleague Erik Fosse added.

While Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, as well as Israel's most prominent human rights organization, B'Tselem have raised questions about the ethical and moral guidelines of Israel's warfare, the Israeli lobby is working hard to counter efforts to protect the civil rights of Gazans.

A Monday report by Press TV revealed that Egypt had refused to allow members of an investigation committee set up by the ICC into the Gaza Strip, arguing that at present only displaced Palestinians could enter the territory through the Rafah crossing.

The committee -- comprised of four French and Norwegian lawyers -- intended to collect evidence and testimonials on Operation Cast Lead to present to the International Court.

Amid reports of profound human sufferings, Israel continues to reject the fact that it has imposed a humanitarian crisis among the battle-hardened 1.5 million population of Gaza and denies committing war crimes in the embattled Strip. 

Egypt hinders investigations into Gaza war .

Mon, 09 Feb 2009 09:48:46 GMT PressTV

Egypt has refused entry into the Gaza Strip to members of an international committee in charge of investigating Israeli war crimes.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) set up the committee.

Four French and Norwegian lawyers comprise the committee. The ICC had earlier started preliminary analysis into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza war.

French and Norwegian lawyers from Amnesty International on Thursday had attempted to enter the impoverished Palestinian sliver through Egypt's Rafah crossing with Gaza.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, as well as B'Tselem, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, have filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

The criminal case is expected to focus on the Israeli atrocities, including charges of using disproportionate force, white phosphorous bombs and depleted uranium in the densely populated area.

The group intended to collect evidence and testimonials on "Operation Cast Lead" which killed over 13,00 Palestinian and wounded nearly 5,500 others, a large number of them women and children.

The evidence was to be submitted to the International Court before Sunday, February 8th.

Egyptian authorities, however, prevented the four member group from crossing the border, arguing that for now only displaced Palestinians can enter the territory thought the crossing.

Egypt has been cooperating closely with Israel in closing the Rafah border crossing in the past 19 months and particularly during the three week long Gaza offensive.

Hamas has also sharply criticized Cairo for refusing to keep the crossing open to wounded Palestinian people despite the dire humanitarian situation in the heavily bombarded coastal strip.

The country has won Israel's praise for not allowing people's basic needs and arms from reaching the Palestinian government in Gaza.

"There is an accumulation of weapons and equipment meant for Hamas in Sinai, but Egypt is preventing it from getting into the Strip," Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Israeli forces capture Lebanese aid ship

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 18:59:55 GMT

The case for Israeli war
crimes in Gaza has
gathered momentum
as international attorneys
have filed charges a
gainst senior echelons
in Tel Aviv.
Representatives from various countries will convene in Tehran to help lodge a case for war crimes committed by Israel in its war on Gaza.

Iranian Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi said Thursday that legal authorities from nearly 55 countries are expected to come to a summit in Tehran in early March to defend their case against Israel.

"The summit will explore legal and judicial ways for an international investigation into the acts of genocide and crimes against humanity that Israel committed in the Gaza Strip," said Mortazavi.

The official said a high commission has been launched within the Iranian Judiciary to take legal action against the architects of Israel's three-week long offensive on the Palestinian territory.

"As a signatory to the Geneva Convention, the Islamic Republic reserves the right to prosecute Israel as culpable for war crimes," he added.

The summit announcement comes only two days after the Palestinian Authority recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over Israel's alleged violations of humanitarian law.

Calls for an international probe into Tel Aviv war crimes intensified after Israeli soldiers asserted that they pounded the Palestinian coast with at least twenty phosphorus bombs during their operations.

Israel initially denied using the controversial weapon, which burns the flesh to the bone, but was forced later, in the face of mounting evidence, to admit to having used it.

Other charges brought against Israel include the "reckless and indiscriminate" shelling of residential areas, the use of Palestinian families as human shields by Israeli soldiers and the unrelenting attacks on several medical facilities and UN compounds in the area.

More than 1330 Palestinians -- the natives of the land -- were killed during Israel's Operation Cast Lead, while thousands of others, many of them women and children, remain hospitalized.

Tel Aviv has strived to justify its devastating assault on Gaza by claiming that it sought 'self-defense' as recognized by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

The UN Charter and international law, however, do not give Israel the legal foundation for claiming self-defense in the case of its Gaza operations.

Israeli election frontrunner Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, claimed that Israel failed to achieve its main objectives mainly because the offensive on Gaza "did not go far enough".

The military operations on Gaza came at a time when Palestinians were already suffering from a 19-month blockade, which stripped the area of vital goods, including food, fuel, medical supplies and construction materials.

Running water and electricity are reportedly available less than 12 hours a day. "Entire neighborhoods have disappeared," the BBC reported.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that an estimated 60,800 people are left homeless and more than 100,000 people remain displaced in the coastal sliver

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Palestine refers Israeli war-crimes to ICC

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 23:52:02

Hayet Zeghiche, The Hague, The Netherlands

MP: Arrest British Jews fighting for IDF

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 17:39:56 GMT
By Fareena Alam, Press TV, London
Lord Nazir Ahmed
Lord Nazir Ahmed is one of Britain's most prominent Muslim leaders. This week, he questioned the British government about concerns that British Jews may have served in the Israeli Defense Force during Operation Cast Lead - the three-week bombardment of Gaza.

Lord Ahmed's questions have brought attention to an issue that has significant legal and political implications but which few want to discuss in public.

The following is an exclusive Press TV interview with Lord Ahmed:

Press TV: Lord Nazir Ahmed, you raised question in Parliament about the legal implications of British Jews serving in the IDF. What was the response?

Lord Ahmed: I asked Her Majesty's government if they were aware of British citizens who may have been involved with the war crimes committed by the Israeli Defense Force and Israeli Defense Reserves. Her Majesty's government did not have any figures because dual nationals do not have to inform the government. However, there are reports in the Daily Mirror and The Sun with the names of British citizens who have been fighting in Gaza.

The point I was making is that war crimes have been committed, white phosphorous has been used and if there are people who have broken the 4th Geneva Convention, then whoever they are, when they return to this country, they should be arrested and charged - unlike the Major General who escaped in 2005.

Press TV: Are you certain these are up to date reports about British citizens serving in Israel?

Lord Ahmed: These are very new reports, dated January 2009, of British citizens who have gone out to fight against the Palestinian people as part of the IDF. Their names and ages are mentioned in these reports.

We know that there are student unions that have been actively recruiting young people in Britain to join the Israeli Defense Force and we also know that there are young Jewish students who go and serve on the kibbutz and also in schools, who are also then doing national service in Israel.

How many of those have been involved in war crimes? How many of those have broken the Geneva Convention? When they come back to this country, we want our government to take some legal action against them.

Press TV: Will our government take such action?

Lord Ahmed: Yes - if there is evidence and if the United Nations is strong enough. At the moment they have not even decided how they are going to conduct this independent investigation into the use of white phosphorous and other weapons prohibited by the United Nations.

There is very clear evidence that the 4th Geneva Convention has been breached - we know there was collective punishment, excessive and disproportionate use of force against civilians and deliberate attacks on schools, hospitals and ambulances. There have even been attacks on UNRWA personnel and warehouses.

If the United Nations makes a statement or if someone goes to the courts and gets an order against these people then I am sure the government has to take some legal action.

Press TV: Were you surprised by the response from the government?

Lord Ahmed: I am not surprised at all. Lord Malloch-Brown did actually say that if there is any evidence of the 4th Geneva Convention being breached, and it doesn't matter whether they are British citizens or whether they are other nationalities, these people will be arrested and they will be tried in this country.

Press TV: How do you think the British Jewish community will react to such a move?

Lord Ahmed: Well the reaction was very obvious. One of their lordships got up and started to praise the British citizens who were fighting in Gaza. He said: shouldn't we be proud of the fact they are fighting against terrorists who are hell bent on trying to destroy Israel.

But they are not fighting against a terrorist organization as such. The IDF and those who serve in it have been involved in the massacre of civilians, including hundreds of Palestinian children and attacks on the United Nations and even the American school. There is just no excuse for anyone to get away from these war crimes this time.

Press TV: Is this situation comparable to British Muslims allegedly going to fight in foreign conflicts?

Lord Ahmed: There have been many government statements with regards to British Muslims going abroad to foreign madrasahs and then seeking training. There was a huge outcry across the board - from government officials, politicians and civil society.

Of course, we do not support anyone who has been involved with terrorism or killing of innocent civilians anywhere, or those who fight British troops abroad.

However, to me there is no difference whether the young person is from a Jewish background or Muslim background. The only difference is that one has a uniform and the other does not. Both kill innocent civilians. Both need to be brought justice.

This is why Baroness Tongue asked the question about the number of British youth who go to religious Jewish schools and also the kibbutz. In this case, it is a double standard to allow young British citizens of whatever religion, who go to religious schools and then get involved in armed conflicts and join a terrorist state.

The very fact that in both cases, they kill innocent civilians, including children warrants a fresh look at this issue, as was recommended by Lord Wallace of Saltaire.

Press TV: Are you expecting any progress now that you have raised the issue?

Lord Ahmed: My intention was to bring this matter to the attention of parliament. The second was to discuss this openly in the media. It has always been a taboo to ask any questions about Jewish youth who go to Israel for training and service in the IDF.

We have received a government statement. Now, it is for the legal experts to take it up in the courts and to make sure the government takes legal action against people who may have been in breach of international law.

As a general point, I was surprised by how the entire British society was moved by this crisis. In almost every town and city, people went out to demonstrate against the bombing and killing of innocent civilians. They put pressure on the government and at least the government has done a few things such as taking the resolution to the UN.

But more importantly, I have definitely seen the mood amongst British politicians change to become more openly critical of the Israeli government. Unfortunately, that is not the same in Europe.

We went to see the President of the European Parliament and met with a number of Members of the European Parliament who feel that Germany, Austria and France and other parts of Europe still have guilt in relation to the Holocaust. That is why Israel can get away with anything it wants.

We know that very fine members of parliament like Gerald Kaufman MP, who is himself Jewish, very openly said that just because these people were victims of the Holocaust does not mean they should perpetrate another holocaust on the Palestinian people.

We need to speak out and support Jews, like Gerald Kaufman and Jews for Justice for Palestine, who have been supporting the Palestinians.

International lawyers in Gaza to document possible war crimes

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 19:32:50
Yousef Al-Helou, Press TV, Gaza

In silence of guns, Gaza plights get fair chance of hearing

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 18:29:41

Ashraf Shannon, Press TV, Gaza

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ICC Looking at Ways to Prosecute Israel over Gaza Crimes

02/02/2009 | Al Manar

The International Criminal Court is exploring ways to prosecute Israeli occupation commanders over war crimes in Gaza, the London-based The Times newspaper reported Monday.

According to the paper, the alleged crimes include the use of deadly white phosphorus in densely populated civilian areas. Israel initially denied using the controversial weapon, which causes horrific burns, but was forced later, in the face of mounting evidence, to admit to having deployed it and order the Israeli occupation army to launch an investigation into the matter, The Times said.

When Palestinian groups petitioned the ICC this month, its prosecutor said that it was unable to take the case because it had no jurisdiction over Israel, a non-signatory to the court. Now, however, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, has told The Times that he is examining the case for Palestinian jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in Gaza.

Palestinian groups have submitted arguments asserting that the Palestinian Authority is the de facto state in the territory where the crimes were committed, the report said. “It is the territorial state that has to make a reference to the court. They are making an argument that the Palestinian Authority is, in reality, that state,” Moreno-Ocampo told The Times at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Part of the Palestinian argument rests on the Israeli insistence that it has no responsibility for Gaza under international law since it withdrew from the territory in 2006.

“They are quoting jurisprudence,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “It’s very complicated. It’s a different kind of analysis I am doing. It may take a long time but I will make a decision according to law.”

He added that his examination of the case did not necessarily reflect a belief that war crimes had been committed in Gaza. Determining jurisdiction was a first step, he said, and only after it had been decided could he launch an investigation.

Palestinian lawyers argue that the Palestinian Authority should be allowed to refer the cases in Gaza on this same ad hoc basis – despite its lack of internationally recognized statehood.

According to The Times, the case has wide-reaching ramifications for the Palestinian case for statehood. If the court rejects the case, it will highlight the legal black hole that Palestinians find themselves in while they remain stateless.

Israel trying to avoid prosecution in Spain

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 18:34:53 GMT | PressTV

Israel's Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer
among seven officials prosecuted in Spain.
Tel Aviv is seeking to avoid a Spanish lawsuit filed against seven Israeli officials accused of "crimes against humanity" in the Gaza Strip.

Representatives of the charged Israeli officials were summoned to a meeting with the Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan Monday afternoon, in a bid to devise a united plea, Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported.

Spanish judge, Fernando Andreu began an investigation Thursday into seven current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza. The bombing killed a top Hamas commander, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 other people including nine children.

Israel's Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer along with former Israel Air Force and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, former GOC Southern Command Doron Almog, former National Security Council head Giora Eiland and Brigadier-General (Res.) Mike Herzog have been charged by the Spanish judge.

Andreu acted under a doctrine that allows prosecution of foreign nationals in Spain, and other European countries, to reach far beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes.

The Monday meeting is also expected to study ways to cajole the Spanish judge into reconsidering the prosecution.

The move is in line with an earlier Israeli cabinet decision to endorse a resolution, proposed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which would support the army officers against possible war crimes prosecution in foreign courts.

Under the resolution Israel is committed to providing full moral and legal support to any soldier or army officers faced with legal action in foreign courts.

Israel launched a 23-day war against the Gaza Strip late December killing at least 1,330 people including women and children.

The huge number of civilian casualties in the Gaza War has fueled speculations over a wave of legal prosecutions against Israel, which is accuse of war crimes in the costal strip.

Iran: Israel must be brought to justice

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 17:28:28 GMT | PressTV

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) calls for continuation of political pressure on Israel.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Israeli officials must be brought to justice over their crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip.

"The trial of Israeli officials should be followed up on and the world's political pressure on the Zionist regime [of Israel] should continue," said Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal on Monday in Tehran.

Israel waged an offensive against Gaza on December 27, killing 1,330 people, including women and children, and wounding 5,450 others.

The heavy offensive was launched against Gaza under the pretext of putting an end to the rocket-firings from the area. Later, however, Tel Aviv, acknowledged that the attacks were aimed at toppling the democratically-elected Hamas government, which took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on January 18 after failing to achieve its goals in the coastal region and withdrew its military forces from the Gaza Strip within days.

Following the victory Hamas announced a separate ceasefire, but the Israeli side failed to uphold the truce and continued its aerial attacks on the sliver.

Many share the view that the Israeli offensive against Gaza was planned by the outgoing Israeli government to make up for its defeat in the 33-day war on Lebanon. The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister had been under severe criticism for neglecting to consult with military and non-military officials before launching the attack.

Hailing Hamas' victory, Ahmadinejad described the resistance as an indispensable element warning Palestinians against falling for Israeli plots.

The president also said that Israel was likely to launch another aggression against Palestinians.

In a press briefing with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Sunday, Khaled Mashaal declared that the Hamas movement would remain armed as long as the occupation continues.

Mashaal arrived in Tehran to meet with Iranian officials and review Israel's 23-day war on the people of Gaza.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Israel: Spain will limit borderless courts

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 16:12:19 GMT | PressTV

Tzipi Livni is one of the major contenders for becoming the next Prime Minister in the Feb. 10 elections.
Israel says Spain will limit the reach of its courts amid a much-anticipated probe into alleged Israeli war crimes by a Spanish court.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Friday that her Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos had informed her that Spain would scale back the authority of its courts, AP reported.

"I think this is very important news and I hope that other states in Europe will do the same," Livni said.

A Spanish judge began an investigation Thursday into seven current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza.

The bombing killed a top Hamas commander, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 other people including nine children.

Spanish judge Fernando Andreu agreed to look into the case against Israel's Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, and the then head of the air force Dan Halutz along with five other former Israeli officials.

One of the Israelis the court aimed to investigate, former military chief of staff Moshe Yaalon, dismissed the charges as "propaganda."

Yaalon, now a candidate for parliament for the Likud Party, told Israel's Army Radio that he was "not worried" about standing trial.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the frontrunner to become the next premier, said the Spanish decision "makes a mockery out of international law."

In the wake of Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv has vowed to protect the army's rank-and-file members as well as Israeli commanders.

The war in Gaza left at least 1,330 Palestinians dead and thousands of others wounded. Israel lost 10 soldiers in the fighting and three Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas rockets.

The incumbent Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has rejected the Spanish probe. "Whoever calls the killing of a terrorist a 'crime against humanity' is living in an upside down world," he said in a statement.

Hamas, the democratically-elected governor of the Gaza Strip, seeks the termination of the 18-month Israeli blockade of Gaza. The group is labeled as a terrorist organization by Tel Aviv and Washington.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gazans put up tents near rubble of demolished houses

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 00:45:31
Ashraf Shannon, Press TV, Gaza

Spanish FM: We'll act to prevent war crimes probes against Israel

Haaretz Correspondent | By Barak Ravik

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos informed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Friday of Spain's plan to amend legislation that granted a Spanish judge the authority to launch a much-publicized war crimes investigation against senior Israeli officials.

Judge Fernando Andreu launched an investigation Thursday into seven current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza that killed a top Hamas militant, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 other people, including nine children.

The judge acted under a doctrine that allows prosecution in Spain, and other European countries, to reach far beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes. The universal jurisdiction ruling sparked outrage in Israel and elsewhere.

Spanish state television TVE quoted government sources as saying the possibility of a legal "adjustment or modification" would not be retroactive and would not affect the case before the courts.

"I just heard from the Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos, that Spain has decided to change its legislation in connection with universal jurisdiction and this can prevent the abuse of the Spanish legal system," Livni told the Associated Press. "I think this is very important news and I hope that other states in Europe will do the same."

"Legal systems around the world have been exploited by cynics whose sole purpose is to hurt Israel," Livni went on to say. "It's good that Spain decided to put an end to this phenomenon."

One of the Israelis the court aimed to investigate on Friday called the charges propaganda. Former military chief of staff Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio that he was not worried about standing trial. Yaalon, now a candidate for parliament for the Likud Party, said the goal of the Spanish court decision was "to delegitimize Israel and present us as war criminals."

National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, another Israeli official targeted in the investigation, called the Spanish court decision "ludicrous."

"Terror organizations use the courts of the free world and the mechanisms of democratic nations to file lawsuits against a country that operates against terror," Ben-Eliezer, the defense minister at the time of the 2002 bombing, said in a statement. "I do not regret my decision. Salah Shehadeh was a Hamas activist, an arch-murderer whose hands were stained with the blood of about 100 Israelis and who carried out the most heinous attacks against our citizens."

Current Defense Minister Ehud Barak also issued a statement in which he said: "Whoever calls the killing of a terrorist a 'crime against humanity' is living in an upside down world."

Barak added that "all senior officials in the defense establishment, current and erstwhile, have acted appropriately on behalf of Israel and from a commitment to defend its citizens."

Israel's Justice Ministry announced Friday that it had transferred material regarding the case to Spanish authorities. It criticized the launching of the case and expressed hope it would be closed soon.

"There is no doubt that this is a cynical political attempt by anti-Israel elements to abuse the Spanish court system and attack Israel," the ministry said in a statement. "The State of Israel is determined to act against these types of lawsuits in Spain and in other countries with legal and diplomatic means."

The Justice Ministry on Thursday sent the Israeli Embassy in Madrid a large amount of documents which included legal rulings and Supreme Court decisions dealing with the targeted killing of Shehadeh.

Israeli Ambassador to Spain Rafi Shotz will on Friday give the material to the Spanish judge in order to help bring a cancellation of the ruling.

Andreu announced the probe in a writ issued Thursday.

The people named in the suit include Dan Halutz, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff and Israel Air Force commander at the time, as well as Ben-Eliezer and Yaalon.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the decision to launch the probe.

"It's absurd; Israel is fighting against war criminals and they are charging us with crimes?" said Netanyahu, speaking on Army Radio.

He added: "There is nothing more ridiculous and absurd than them accusing us, a democracy legitimately protecting itself against terrorists and war criminals, of these crimes; it is absurd and makes a mockery out of international law."

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for a wave of lawsuits by pro-Palestinian organizations overseas against Israelis involved in the latest Gaza fighting, claiming they were responsible for war crimes due to the harsh results stemming from the IDF's actions against Palestinian civilians and their property.

Senior Israeli ministers have expressed serious fears following the war about the possibility that Israel will be pressed to agree to an international investigation of the losses among non-combatants during Operation Cast Lead; or alternately, that Israelis will be faced with personal suits, such as happened to Israeli officers who were accused of war crimes in Britain for their actions during the second intifada.