EUlawyers tar­get IDF of­fi­cers

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

SE­NIOR IDF of­fi­cers have stopped vis­it­ing sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries, in­clud­ing Bri­tain, as a net­work of hu­man rights lawyers has stepped up ef­forts to is­sue ar­rest war­rants against of­fi­cers sus­pected of war crimes.

Lawyers in the UK, Hol­land, Spain and other coun­tries have com­piled a list of IDF of­fi­cers who were in com­mand of Op­er­a­tion Cast Lead in Gaza 10 months ago. Ac­cord­ing to Daniel Ma­chover of Hick­man & Rose in Lon­don, his of­fice has been in­structed by Pales­tini­ans in Gaza to bring charges against of­fi­cers for al­leged war crimes.

“A lawyer from our of­fice was in Gaza in Jan­uary, in­ter­view­ing Pales­tinian civil­ians and col­lect­ing ev­i­dence, and we have been work­ing on their cases ever since,” he said this week.

The Gold­stone Re­port on the fight­ing in Gaza high­lighted a num­ber of cases of al­leged war crimes that the lawyers were al­ready work­ing on.

The next stage in the lawyers’ work was to iden­tify spe­cific IDF of­fi­cers who were in di­rect com­mand of the sec­tors in which those cases occurred, or of­fi­cers who were re­spon­si­ble in the chain of com­mand.

Is­raeli-born Mr Ma­chover re­fused to dis­close the names of those of­fi­cers, only say­ing that “there are ob­vi­ous candidates but also some who are less ob­vi­ous. It all de­pends on the de­tails in each spe­cific case.”

A list of of­fi­cers has been cir­cu­lated be­tween lawyers in Euro­pean coun­tries with “uni­ver­sal ju­ris­dic­tion” laws, mean­ing that pri­vate cit­i­zens are able to ask a court to is­sue ar­rest war­rants against for­eign cit­i­zens who are sus­pected of car­ry­ing out war crimes.

A net­work of ac­tivists is also on the look­out in case any of the of­fi­cers on this list visit their coun­tries.

In some cases they have elicited the as­sis­tance of bor­der agen­cies and po­lice forces.

Mr Ma­chover claims that “a small num­ber of of­fi­cers are on po­lice watch­lists in Bri­tain”.

Se­nior IDF of­fi­cers who are plan­ning to travel abroad have been re­ferred to a spe­cial com­mit­tee of lawyers from the For­eign and Jus­tice min­istries and the IDF’s le­gal branch. They ad­vise the of­fi­cers on how to con­duct them­selves abroad and in which coun­tries they have to take spe­cial pre­cau­tions.

In some cases, of­fi­cers have been told not to visit cer­tain coun­tries, in­clud­ing Bri­tain.

The Home Of­fice would not re­spond to ques­tions re­gard­ing po­lice watch­lists. The IDF spokesman also de­clined to re­spond, say­ing that it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the For­eign and Jus­tice Min­istries.

A For­eign Min­istry spokesman said that “we are aware of the in­ten­tions of Pales­tinian or­gan­i­sa­tions and their sup­port­ers to at­tack IDF of­fi­cers by le­gal and pub­lic meth­ods and we are mak­ing ef­forts to ward them off”.

In a sub­se­quent in­ter­view this week, Mr Ma­chover said that for­mer IDF Chief of Staff and cur­rent Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Moshe Yaalon should be ar­rested “in any Euro­pean coun­try in which he lands” for his in­volve­ment in the bomb­ing of the home of Ha­mas leader Salah She­hade in 2002, in which 14 other peo­ple were killed.

Mr Yaalon said that he has re­frained re­cently from trav­el­ling to Europe “and it isn’t a great loss for me”.

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