Jerusalem Silent on War Crimes Charges

Ad Feedback—JERUSALEM—As groups around the world line up to try Israelis for war crimes in the recent Gaza military operation, some government officials are worried that Jerusalem's silence in the face of strong legal action is hurting.  One official told The Jerusalem Post's Herb Keinon, "Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz is involved, and a committee has been set up to deal with any lawsuits filed, but these are all defensive measures.  We are not taking the offensive."

According to the official, the most prominent example of the government's silence was when the Palestinian Authority (PA) asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate war crimes allegedly committed during Operation Cast Lead.  Another instance came this week when a delegation from the Arab League came to Gaza, to investigate war crimes and issue a report.

Political jockeying is one reason for the government's silence.  The February 10th elections came on the heels of the Gaza operation, and now the Likud party is trying to build a coalition government.  One Foreign Ministry official said that in the case of the PA's call for investigation, neither Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni nor Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have much interest in publicly responding because of their ongoing talks with the PA. Others believe that by fighting back, Israel would give more attention to the petitioners and keep the subject in the public eye for a longer time.

In any case, most of the petitions and legal requests are, for now, in the talking stage.  When courts began to act against Israelis, as a Spanish judge did in January when he ordered a probe against seven leading former military officers for a 2002 anti-terrorist bombing in Gaza, Israeli leaders spoke out strongly.  Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "Someone who calls the assassination of a terrorist a crime against humanity lives in an upside-down world."

Source:  The Jerusalem Post

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