Spain’s Supreme Court has approved the decision to close the investigation against top Israeli leaders regarding the bombing death of top Hamas terrorist Salah Shehada in 2002. Fourteen other civilians were killed in the blast, including Shehada’s wife and several children.
Israel had long sought to kill Shehada, the man slated to succeed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as leader of Hamas. Shehada had masterminded hundreds of attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers over the preceding several years. These included the Kassam rockets fired at Sderot and environs, the attacks in Atzmona, in which five students were murdered, the IDF “Africa” outpost, where four soldiers were killed, the Matza restaurant in Haifa, killing 15 civilians, Sbarros restaurant, claiming 15 lives and the Dolphinarium, where 21 died, and many more.
Shehada was killed by a one-ton bomb dropped on his apartment building hideout.
Spain later opened an international war crimes investigation against Israel for the attack, accusing then-Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Mike Herzog, then-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, then-Israel Air Force chief Gen. Dan Halutz, then-Shabak chief Avi Dichter, and others.
The Prosecution in Spain had claimed that Israel, a democracy run according to law, was still investigating the case on its own, and that its authorities were authorized by Israeli law to investigate war crimes on its own, and that therefore the complaint against Israel in Spain should be closed. The Supreme Court in Spain upheld a lower court ruling and the position of the State Prosecution in ordering the investigation closed.
Israelis on the Run
Investigations of this nature in Spain and other countries prevented and prevent Israeli leaders from traveling freely abroad, for fear of being arrested.
Late last year, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni canceled her participation in a Jewish function in London after she learned that a warrant for her arrest had been issued regarding her part in Israel's anti-terrorism Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The warrant was later revoked.
In 2005, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Doron Almog, one of those accused in the Shehada incident, remained on an El Al plane in Heathrow Airport in Britain after being tipped off that he could be arrested.