IDF officers warned not to visit Europe

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
A recent letter has been disseminated to several senior and junior officers of the Israel Defense Forces and several political figures warning them not to travel to Europe due to charges filed against them for war crimes they had allegedly committed during the war in Lebanon.

The letter, disseminated by the Foreign Ministry says that several international organizations have begun building cases and gathering evidence against IDF officers and Israeli political officials for their part in alleged war crimes committed in Lebanon during the latest conflict. The letter said that officers might be arrested upon arrival, and to reconsider visiting Europe at this time.

The ministers who are warned include Eli Yishai of Shas and Haim Ramon of Kadima who have both expressed a tough stance regarding the IDF’s actions in Lebanon calling for destruction of entire villages.

The Foreign Ministry has hired the legal services of attorneys in Europe to attempt to deal with the matter. Besides the legal efforts, diplomatic talks are taking place with countries such as Britain to try and avoid the embarrassment associated with arresting Israeli officials upon arrival. Israeli officials say that despite their wishes, European law allows for these actions to take place.

Over the past few years, several Israeli officials and senior IDF officers were instructed to alter their travel plans to Europe due to arrest warrants that awaited them upon arrival. Last year Major General Doron Almog, now retired, was instructed to remain on an El-Al aircraft upon his arrival to London because of an arrest warrant that awaited him as soon as he would enter British soil. He returned to Israel on the next flight.

Similar warrants were issued in the past to current and former IDF Chiefs of Staff Dan Halutz, Moshe Yaalon, and Shaul Mofaz, as well as to former General Security Services head Avi Dichter and even former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for their part in several IDF operations including operation “Defensive Shield.”

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