On June 24, 2008, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), funded by the European Commission, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Holland, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and Christian Aid, and a leader in anti-Israel “lawfare”, filed suit in the National Court of Spain, the highest Spanish judicial council, against seven former senior Israeli military officials: former Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, former military advisor, Michael Herzog, former Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, and Dan Halutz, former Chief of Staff and Commander of the Israeli Air Force.
PCHR claims these individuals committed a “war crime” for their alleged involvement in a July 2002 IDF air strike targeting Sheik Salah Shehadah, one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing and among Israel’s most wanted terrorists. PCHR omits this context from its suit as well as that Shehada masterminded hundreds of terror attacks, including a bus bombing which killed many Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and his responsibility for an attack in Tel-Aviv in which eight Israelis were killed in an ambush by Palestinian gunmen dressed as Israeli soldiers. PCHR further claims it must file such suits in jurisdictions with no connection to the events at issue because “the Israeli judiciary [is] used as a legal cover for the perpetration of war crimes, and as a tool to deliberately hinder international jurisdiction under the pretext of a ‘fair’ national judicial system operating in Israel”.
This case is part of PCHR’s on-going campaign to harass Israeli military officials for anti-terror measures. In addition to the case in Spain, PCHR is involved in civil suits (all of which have been dismissed) filed in the US in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights; the procurement of an arrest warrant against Doron Almog in the UK in 2005; an action to criminally indict former Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon in New Zealand; and the submission of two complaints to Switzerland’s Military Attorney General against former Israeli Minister of Defense, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer; former Chief of Staff of the Israeli military, Shaul Mofaz; former head of Israel’s General Security Services, Avi Dichter; and Almog for alleged “grave breaches of international humanitarian law”.
NGO Monitor will be publishing a detailed study on NGO involvement in lawsuits against Israeli officials in Fall 2008.