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Israelis fear arrests { November 12 2002 }

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   http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,838160,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,838160,00.html

Israelis fear war crimes arrests

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Tuesday November 12, 2002
The Guardian

The Israeli government has ordered an urgent assessment of whether its politicians and soldiers could face arrest and trial for war crimes while travelling abroad.

The move follows a report by the justice ministry that singled out Britain, Spain and Belgium as the most likely to prosecute Israeli officials who breach international law. But the government fears there is a growing trend towards global justice that could see Israelis effectively barred from visiting a host of states.

"We are building a map of all those countries that might give us a headache," said Ra'anan Gissin, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon. "They want to arrest Israelis who are enforcing the law while the real war criminals, like Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat, get away scot free."

The report was ordered after lawyers presented the cabinet with a report commissioned in the wake of a failed legal action in the Belgian courts last year accusing Mr Sharon of war crimes over the massacres of Palestinians in refugee camps 20 years ago.

Last month, Scotland Yard launched an investigation of Israel's new defence minister, Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz, during his short visit to Britain.

Amnesty International has called on signatories to the Geneva conventions to put on trial Israeli soldiers "responsible for war crimes" as defined in the Geneva conventions, such as unlawful killings, torture and the use of Palestinians as human shields in Jenin and Nablus earlier this year.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the new Israeli foreign minister, yesterday called for Mr Arafat's removal after a gunman killed five Israelis, including a mother and two children, in a kibbutz on Sunday.



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