Gaza Arab Seeks to Put Ayalon on Trial
A Gaza Arab resident is trying to bring Minister Ami Ayalon to trial in the Netherlands, Palestinian Authority media reported Tuesday. The man, Khalid al-Shami, has accused Ayalon of allowing him to be tortured while Ayalon served as head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).
Al-Shami's attorneys filed a petition to the International Court in The Hague on Monday asking that Ayalon be investigated. The petition also called for Ayalon to be brought to the Netherlands for trial via an extradition order.
Arab groups filed a similar petition against Ayalon prior to his visit to the Netherlands in May of 2008. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and lawyers from an office in Amsterdam filed a request calling for Ayalon's arrest while he was in the country. The groups say courts responded favorably to their appeal, however, no arrest warrant was issued. Israel requested that Ayalon be allowed to leave the country, and Dutch officials agreed.
Al-Shami claims he was tortured for several days following his arrest in Gaza City in 1999. While he confessed to the charges against him, he now claims that his confession was obtained by use of torture. Al-Shami says the alleged torture left him permanently disabled.
Ayalon is not the first Israeli security official to fear arrest in a European country. Other security officials have faced warrants in Britain and elsewhere. Brigadier-General Aviv Kochavi canceled a trip to England in 2006 after being informed that he faced an arrest warrant, and months earlier Major-General Doron Almog returned to Israel after arriving in England without disembarking from his plane due to a warrant for his arrest.
In both cases, the generals faced charges from Arab groups accusing them of war crimes in connection with Israeli counterterrorism operations. Arab groups have also attempted to obtain international arrest warrants for Transportation and Road Safety Minister Shaul Mofaz (a former Defense Minister), and the Israeli-Arab group Adalah recently threatened to seek an international arrest warrant for Defense Minister Ehud Barak.