Israel May Battle Hamas in Courts

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JERUSALEM--Some Israeli defense officials are urging the government to consider seeking indictments in courts around the world against terrorist leaders from Hamas. 

The process would involve exposing classified information on terrorists who purposefully hid among civilians in kindergartens, hospitals, United Nations facilities, and other public places while firing on Israeli troops involved in last winter's military campaign in the Gaza Strip. 

The U.N. Human Rights Council and other groups have accused Israel's military of war crimes, including indiscriminately firing on civilians in Gaza. 

One defense official told Israel Radio it is unthinkable that Israeli political and military leaders worry about being arrested on war crimes charges overseas while "Hamas terrorists, officials and supporters in the Middle East and Europe continue to travel around the world unhindered, as though they have been granted immunity despite the crimes they committed."

But others are wary of pursuing terrorists in the courts. 

Amnon Strashov, a former judge and military leader, says he's concerned that Israel would be dragged into "the Palestinian arena" by pressing charges. He fears it could give credence to the authority of international law over the Israeli Defense Forces. Strashov said he believes Palestinian and Arab groups would multiply their prosecution attempts against Israelis in foreign courts.

One military spokesperson warned on Army Radio that "Terrorist organizations are positioning themselves in urban areas, missile ranges are growing and growing." 

The spokesperson said that the army cannot defend the country properly "if forced to consult lawyers at every turn."

Many defense leaders want to see a change in international law concerning Hamas and other terrorist organizations and their use of civilian shields while they conduct war.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his cabinet Tuesday find ways to deal with terrorism at an international legal level. 

"Weapons are being stockpiled all around us with the aim of targeting Israeli civilians," Netanyahu said.  "I want to make it clear that no one will damage our ability and right to protect our children, civilians and communities."

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YnetNews

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