A Palestinian human rights group urged the British authorities Monday morning to arrest Shaul Mofaz, Israeli army chief of staff at the height of the Second Intifada and former defense minister, who is currently visiting London.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) called on the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, and the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, “to urgently liaise to ensure that immediate decisions are made regarding the arrest and (if the evidence permits) prosecution” of Mofaz, “with a war crimes offence contrary to the Geneva Conventions Act 1957.”
“It is essential”, PCHR notes, that “the decisions are made today, 22 June 2015, before Mr Mofaz is able to leave the UK.”
Mofaz is in London to speak at a conference on UK-Israeli relations, organised by the Jewish News and Israel lobby group BICOM. A number of other senior Israeli politicians are in attendance at today’s event, including Interior Minister Silvan Shalom and opposition head Isaac Herzog.
Over the weekend, Israeli media reported that Mofaz had decided to travel to the UK despite the Israeli government’s failure to secure him diplomatic immunity for the visit. According to one source, “the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the embassy in London, and the local Jewish community” had all “pressured” British officials, but “no guarantees where made.”
As Mofaz is no longer in office, and made the trip in his personal capacity, the British government deemed his visit ineligible for the Foreign Office-issued ‘Special Mission’ status used just last week by Tzipi Livni as protection from an arrest warrant.
After learning of his visit, and “acting on behalf of Gazan victims of alleged war crimes”, PCHR sent the police and Crown Prosecution Service the relevant evidence concerning Mofaz. In their statement, PCHR highlighted the UK’s “international duties under article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 to ‘seek out and prosecute’ those suspected of committing war crimes.”
Mofaz was the Israeli military’s chief of staff from 1998-2002, a period that included the brutal repression of the Palestinian Second Intifada. Mofaz subsequently served as Minister of Defense from November 2002 to May 2006.
In both roles, Mofaz had responsibility for grave human rights violations, including wilful killings, assassinations, torture, home demolitions, and various policies of collective punishment.