Daily Israel Report

Olmert, Livni, and Barak May Face War Crimes Trial in Norway

Six Norwegian lawyers said they will accuse Israeli officials of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. Olmert faces another trial.
By Yehudah Lev Kay
First Publish: 4/22/2009, 9:58 AM

Israel News Photo

Six Norwegian lawyers announced on Tuesday their intent to press charges of war crimes against top Israeli officials, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for their actions in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Israel’s operation, which was launched to end Hamas terrorist rocket fire, resulted in the death of 1,300 Gazans and 13 Israelis.

The lawyers plan to file their claim on Wednesday under a Norwegian law which allows courts to hear cases involving war crimes. They will present their case to Norway’s chief prosecutor and ask for the arrest and extradition of Olmert, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and seven IDF officers.

One of the lawyers, Kjell Brgfjeld, told the French news agency AFP, that the case will be brought on behalf of "three people of Palestinian origin living in Norway and 20 families who lost loved ones or property during the attack.” The case will accuse the Israeli officials of “massive terrorist attacks” which killed civilians. It will also charge Israel with using weapons against civilian targets such as hospitals and medical staff.

The lawyers’ statement said regarding the accused Israeli figures, “There can be no doubt that these subjects knew about, ordered or approved the actions in Gaza and that they had considered the consequences of these actions.” While the group admits the case may not reach court, lawyer Harald Stabell claimed, “If we do nothing, it is more likely that a similar attack will happen again in the future.”

Ties between Israel and Norway are already strained after Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store chose not to leave the hall during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the Durban II UN racism conference in Geneva in which he called Israel a racist state. Store spoke to the plenum immediately after Ahmadinejad, however, and harshly criticized the Iranian leader’s words.