Wednesday 20 February 2008

Shootout at Heathrow over universal jurisdiction

As a frequent tenant of Heathrow airport, I couldn't not be interested in a story in today's Haaretz about a possible shootout at the airport.
Apparently an Israel Defense Forces general escaped arrest for alleged war crimes at London's Heathrow airport in 2005 because British police feared an arrest would spark a shootout with Israeli security officials. Haaretz cites the BBC on this.
Major General (res.) Doron Almog, planning to visit Jewish communities in the U.K., refused to deplane for two hours, after receiving a warning from the Israeli embassy of the imminent arrest. He then returned to Israel.
Palestinian groups had pressed U.K. authorities to arrest Almog over his alleged role in the destruction of more than 50 homes in the Gaza Strip in 2002, prompting a British judge to issue an arrest warrant.
Almog commanded the IDF southern command between 2000 and 2003.
Police waiting to arrest the Israeli general on the ground did not board the plane due to concerns that a clash with Israeli air marshals or armed personal security would erupt on board.
The British judge issued the warrant based on suspicion that Almog had violated the Geneva Conventions. The judge decided to issue a warrant based on one such violation - the destruction of a home in Rafah - in order to allow the police to question Almog over three other incidents: the killing of a nine-month pregnant woman in March 2003; the firing of a "Flechette" antipersonnel shells at three Gaza youths and killing them in December 2001; and dropping a missile on a house in Gaza in July 2002, killing a senior Hamas man along with 14 Palestinian civilians. When Major General Almog returned to Israel, the British foreign secretary issued an apology for the incident.

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