Yup, the Europeans are fearful of the economic implications and yet are braving potential catastrophe in the pursuit of justice.
A couple of days ago, the retired IDF general who had been in charge of the Israeli South, including Gaza, found himself in a strange predicament. On a visit to England to fundraise for a charity in Israel, Doron Almog was asked by the El Al captain of the plane to remain on the plane rather than disembark with the other passengers.
The curious Almog patiently waited as an attache from the Israeli embassy arrived to inform him that he may wish to postpone his travel plans to England, uh, indefinitely. The reason? Some do-gooder lawyers, one of whom is of course a son to former Israelis, representing a Muslim pro-Palestinian organization, were able to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant for Almog. The charge is war crimes with respect to the Geneva Convention and the unit out to arrest him was Britain’s anti-terrorist and war crimes unit.
Specifically, they wanted to charge him and investigate further into Almog’s action with respect to the destruction of 59 Palestinian homes in Rafiah, the attack on a building housing a wanted Hamas leader that ended up also killing 14 innocent Palestinian children, the death of a pregnant Palestinian woman, and the death of three Palestinian boys in another incident. All of these events have received extensive media coverage in the past and occurred while Almog was in charge of Gaza.
Since a warrant in England has been issued, reciprocity agreements dictate that he could also be arrested if he visits Spain, Germany and other European countries.
Almog had not left the plane and had not passed through immigration and customs in England which meant that he was still under Israeli jurisdiction. He remained on the plane and returned with it to Israel.
International law expert Prof. James Crawford said Israeli soldiers could only be tried for war crimes on specific events and not just for having served in the IDF.
“The mere fact that they served in Gaza does not make them war criminals,” said Crawford a Cambridge Law Professor and the Palestinian Authority’s counsel in hearings over the West Bank security fence at the International Court of Justice in The Hague last year. “You would need to show specific evidence of a crime within the jurisdiction of the English courts, e.g. torture or a war crime.”
The Israeli occupation of Gaza, Crawford said, was not a war crime and serving there as the head of the military forces did not in itself constitute a crime. “Israel has the right to defend itself even in occupied territory,” Crawford explained.
Crawford added that he was sure the British courts “would be sensitive about the abuses people might try to do with the law. Military personnel could only be charged for what they had done, not what some people might think they represent.”
Almog, of course, disagrees with the premise that he was anything but a soldier fighting a war fairly and legally.
“Who are ‘good’? Who are ‘bad’? Who are the people who kill innocent civilians themselves [in acts of terror] and who are simply fighting to protect their homes?” Almog said.
…”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 period there were 400 attempts to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza but they all failed since I created buffer zones by demolishing the homes [in Rafiah].”
Spanish, German and British merchants are mourning the loss of potential business now that numerous Israeli figures who travel often to Western Europe will choose destinations where they are less likely to be arrested. Already some are researching havens such as the windswept nether regions of Siberia, not to mention the Nazi-offspring infested jungles of Paraguay.
The European governments, of course, are not too worried about the economy. “What do you want from us,” Tony Blair was overheard saying in a hallway, “Whom should we be keeping happy, a couple of irate generals in a shitty little country, or a couple of angry oil producing governments and their agents on our soil? Palestinians, shmalestinians; we’ll do what needs to be done to take care of our own.”