Israeli PM's military attache skips UK visit for fear of arrest

11:07, May 06, 2011      

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Fearing possible arrest over alleged war crimes charges, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's military attache opted to avoid an official visit to Britain this week.

Pro-Palestinian groups have filed a suit in Britain against Maj. -Gen. Yohanan Locker for his involvement in alleged war crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Operation Cast Lead, the large-scale military offensive against the Gaza Strip in early 2009.

Locker was deputy chief of the Israel Air Force at the time of the operation, in which some 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

He called off plans to accompany Netanyahu on his trip to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron after officials at Israel's foreign and justice ministries determined he stands a chance of being issued an arrest warrant upon landing in London.

A statement issued by the IDF Spokesman's Office said that there are "ongoing attempts by various elements to initiate legal proceedings against senior Israeli officers in different countries. Such attempts are politically-driven and serve as a tool for bashing Israel and, at times, to embarrass the host country."

"In certain cases, as with Locker, a legal risks assessment is made prior to a planned trip," local daily Yedioth Aharonoth on Thursday quoted the army as saying.

Several senior Israeli defense officials and politicians have stayed clear of the UK since the Gaza operation, among them opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Avi Dichter, the former director of the Shin Bet security agency.

British law currently enables individuals and organizations to sue foreign officials and demand their arrest without having to seek prior approval from the country's prosecution authorities.

Source: Xinhua
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