International law experts warned Monday that IDF generals should not visit England, Germany, Spain and several other European countries since they are in danger of being arrested and being tried for war crimes.
On Sunday, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog – former OC Southern Command – evaded arrest at Heathrow Airport in London after he was warned not to disembark from an El Al flight because British detectives were waiting to arrest him. The arrest warrant had been issued on Saturday by the Bow Street Magistrate's Court at the request of a pro-Palestinian Muslim group. The warrant, reportedly the first of its kind issued in Britain on war crimes charges, alleged that Almog in 2002 had ordered the demolition of 59 Palestinian homes in Rafah.
Almog said in a Channel One interview that he and his wife were going to England to participate in a fundraiser for Alei Negev, an organization that builds homes for children with disabilities. Minutes after landing, he recalled Monday, a stewardess conveyed to him a message from the captain asking him to wait on the plane. The military attach at the Israeli embassy arrived after a short time and, following consultations with IDF Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avi Mandelblit, Almog decided to remain on board and to return to Israel immediately.
"If an IDF officer goes to England today there is a chance they will be arrested," said Irit Kahn, former head of the Justice Ministry's International Affairs Department. "It depends on the country and their laws. Britain has a wide universal legal system similar to Spain and Germany. While not all countries are like this, one needs to be careful."
Maj.-General (res.) Doron Almog notes the irony:
"After returning to Israel and reading about what they had prepared for me, I know I made the right decision," Almog said, adding that the State of Israel needs to fight for him and other IDF officers. "My military service was not for me but for the State of Israel." Almog added, "Look at the paradox. On 9/11, I land in London and they try to arrest me, the same person who fought terror more than anyone. I was the first soldier in Entebbe. During my service there were 400 attempts to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza, but they all failed because I created buffer zones by demolishing the homes [in Rafiah]."
But the fallout has not ended with Almog’s safe removal from England reports YnetOnline:
The Yesh Gvul far left group announced Monday morning that its members have submitted complaints to a British court against IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon.
Yishai Menhin, spokesman of Yesh Gvul, said, “We have passed on to British lawyers the story of the attempted assassination of Hamas chief Salah Shahada in which a bomb weighing a ton was dropped in the heart of a Gaza neighborhood (in 2002), after we despaired of the High Court.”
“The minute that the High Court again froze dealings with the story last week, we began proceedings (in Britain). What matters to us is the claim that Dan Halutz and Moshe Yaalon took the decision to assassinate Shahada without giving thought to those who were innocent. We hope that, in the same way that the British judge decided to order an arrest warrant against Dron Almog, he will also decide to dispatch warrants against Halutz and Yaalon,” added Mehnin.
Meanwhile, the British Guardian newspaper has published a report Monday morning claiming that Daniel Machover, the lawyer who requested that an arrest warrant be produced against Major General Doron Almog, has demanded that a criminal investigation be opened against Israel’s ambassador in London, Zvi Hefetz, and the staff of the Israeli embassy, for helping Almog avoid arrest.
The Israeli embassy’s military attaché informed Almog that a British court had taken out an injunction for his arrest, and Almog immediately returned to Israel before British authorities had an opportunity to arrest him.
Daniel Machover, the lawyer acting on behalf of the Muslim organization behind the charges, demanded that the investigation focus on the question of who leaked the information to the Israeli embassy, and how an Israeli diplomat circumvented the various security stages in order to get to the El Al jet containing Almog, and inform him of the threat he faced.
Human rights group Amnesty International, also criticized British police for not arresting Almog. “He should have been arrested; according to British law there is no reason not to arrest him the minute he was on British soil,” the group in a statement.
The demonization and persecution of Israelis in foreign courts for the alleged “war crimes” of defending their country from terrorists to the best of their ability does not end with the Israelis but merely marks the beginning. How long before Cindy Sheehan and likeminded cohorts decide that a European court is the way to go to further their own political agenda?