MK: What of Spanish War Crimes?

MK Eldad called for trying Spanish officials over their role in the bombing of Serbia, unless Spain agrees to drop charges against Israeli leaders.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

A building damaged by NATO bombing, Belgrade
A building damaged by NATO bombing, Belgrade
photo: file

Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union) has called for Israel to put former Spanish officials on trial for their
"The State of Israel must fight back against this wave of anti-Semitism." -- Eldad
role in the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. His official request was sent to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Friday, in the wake of a Spanish court agreeing to try senior Israelis for an IAF operation that killed senior Hamas terrorist Salah Shehadeh in 2002.

Eldad is seeking to have Israel charge the former Spanish Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff for war crimes against the people of Belgrade and other Serbian areas. Spain, as part of NATO, was involved in massive airstrike sorties targeting Serbia during the civil war in Yugoslavia.

"In those bombings," Eldad's petition said, "hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent civilians were killed because NATO pilots dropped their bombs from extremely high altitudes in order not to endanger themselves. They thus caused mass civilian casualties. It is fitting that the State of Israel try the Spanish political and military leaders for war crimes if Spain does not immediately revoke the charges against the Israeli Defense Minister and Chief of Staff."

MK Eldad wrote to the Attorney General that "in the event that Israeli law does not allow charging and trying someone for war crimes not committed within the national jurisdiction, I would appreciate it if you would instruct the State Prosecutor to turn to the International Court in The Hague so that the Spanish leaders will be tried for war crimes by the international court."

Failing to see the hypocrisy inherent in the charges against Israel for its actions while NATO carried out the same, or worse, actions against Serbia, Eldad concluded, "is testimony to hatred for Israel - Israel the people and Israel the state equally - and the State of Israel must fight back against this wave of anti-Semitism."

The Spanish court agreed last week to hear the case for prosecution of former IAF commander Dan Halutz, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and five other senior Israeli officials for war crimes over their decision to assassinate Shehadeh while the Hamas leader was in a building in Gaza City. Sixteen other people people were killed in the Israeli airstrike, including Shehadeh's wife and child and other children. Israeli leaders called the Spanish court "delusional," however, pointing out that Shehadeh was a terrorist mastermind responsible for the deaths of up to 100 innocent people.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni claimed that she had succeeded in getting the Spanish legislature to amend its laws regarding universal jurisdiction, to avoid such cases in the future. "I think this is very important news and I hope that other states in Europe will do the same," Livni said.