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Senior Israeli officer cancels visit to UK fearing arrest

January 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

A senior Israeli officer has cancelled a planned visit to Britain fearing arrest for alleged war crimes. Major-General Doron Almog is the ex-commanding officer of the Israel Defence Forces Southern Command. He was invited to a fundraising dinner in London later this month but senior government officials advised him to cancel his trip.

Despite the fact that the British government amended the procedures for the law of universal jurisdiction precisely to prevent such arrests, officials in Israel told Almog that they cannot guarantee that a warrant will not be issued for his arrest. He stands accused of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. More specifically, that he issued the order to raze 59 inhabited houses to the ground in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Such an act is regarded as collective punishment, which is prohibited in international law.

Almog was also one of the group of officers and politicians who decided to drop a one-ton-bomb on a house in a densely populated area of the Gaza Strip in order to assassinate Salah Shehadi in July, 2002. Fifteen people were killed in the explosion, including nine children; around 150 were injured.

This is not the first time that the major-general is at the centre of such concerns. Seven years ago he was tipped off that a British judge had issued an arrest warrant for him, so he didn’t leave the aircraft on which he had arrived at Heathrow Airport, opting instead to fly straight back to Tel Aviv.