Thursday, June 24, 2010

Israel faces new war crime headache


Israeli leaders are facing more legal action from rights activists who are filing new lawsuits in connection with Israel's war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza.

Two Belgian lawyers filed an indictment on Wednesday on behalf of more than a dozen Palestinians, calling for some 14 Israeli officials to stand trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed during Tel Aviv's December 2008-January 2009 offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The list comprises of various politicians and military and intelligence officials — including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — who had a role in the deadly onslaught The Jerusalem Post quoted Hungarian News Agency MTI as saying.

The indictment defines Israel's deliberate targeting of places known to hold civilians as well as attacks on plantations and water systems, among other things, as war crimes committed during the 22-day offensive that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and left thousands more injured.

Belgium's "Universal Jurisdiction" law allows for the trial of war criminals in Belgium while the events in question took place elsewhere.

A Brussels court granted a war crimes suit against former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001. Fears of facing legal action in the country also made Livni refrain from traveling to Belgium as Israel's foreign minister in 2009.

Meanwhile, a group of Greek activists plan to sue senior Israeli officials for their role in the May 31 deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy and the killing of several civilians onboard the fleet while it was in international waters.

The 33 Greek nationals, who were accompanying the Gaza Freedom Flotilla when it came under fire, accuse high-ranking Israeli officials, including Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi of violating international laws by attacking the flotilla in international waters.

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