Israeli and Spanish officials engaged in a flurry of secret talks last month to avoid a diplomatic crisis. The reason? A Palestinian nongovernmental organization, or NGO, filed suit in Madrid, seeking arrest warrants against seven former Israeli officers allegedly involved in the 2002 targeted killing of Hamas leader Salah Shehadah in Gaza. Israel’s foreign ministry warned the men against travel to Spain for fear of arrest while Madrid tried to defuse the tensions.
This lawsuit is just the latest front in the anti-Israel “lawfare” strategy — the frivolous exploitation of Western courts to harass Israeli officials. The detractors of the Jewish state are increasingly using civil lawsuits and criminal investigations around the world to tie Israel’s hands against Palestinian terror by accusing Jerusalem of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” In the process, the NGOs also subvert and interfere with the diplomatic relations of Western countries with Israel.
These lawsuits typically ignore the difficulty Israel faces in fighting terrorists who target Israeli civilians while hiding among their own civilian populations. The accusations also ignore the measures Israel takes to avoid civilian casualties, including the strictest rules of engagement for any Western army. While Israel is not the only country that has been subject to this sort of lawfare — several prominent NGOs have filed similar suits against U.S. officials in France and Germany — it is a primary target.