Spanish Supreme Court backs shelving of probe into Israeli air force Gaza bombing

By Ciaran Giles, AP
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spanish court shelves Israeli probe

MADRID — Spain’s Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision to shelve a probe of an Israeli air force bombing that killed a Hamas militant and 14 civilians in Gaza in 2002.

The National Court ruled in June that Spain lacked jurisdiction because Israel was already investigating the attack. The Supreme Court said Tuesday that ruling was correct, rejecting an appeal of it by the Arab Cause Solidarity Committee, a Spanish advocacy organization.

Israel had complained to Spain about the probe, which was begun in 2009 by a National Court investigating magistrate under Spain’s practice of universal jurisdiction, based on a complaint by Palestinian relatives of victims of the attack.

Universal jurisdiction allowed Spanish prosecutors to file charges in cases of egregious human rights violations such as genocide, terrorism or torture, even if they took place outside the country.

Spain last year passed a bill to narrow the scope of the law to cases in which the victims of a crime include Spaniards or the alleged perpetrators were in Spain.

The attack with a one-ton bomb dropped from an Israeli F-16 killed Hamas member Salah Shehadeh along with 14 other people and wounded nine children. Israel defended the attack as a legitimate strike against a terrorist.

Seven Israelis were investigated including Dan Halutz, who commanded Israel’s air force at the time of the attack, and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, then defense minister and now the minister of trade.

The five others were Doron Almog, who at the time was commander of the air force in Gaza; Giora Eiland, then Israel’s National Security Adviser; Michael Herzog, who was with the Defense Ministry; Moshe Ya’alon, then chief of staff of the Israeli military; and Abraham Dichter, then director of the Shin Bet internal security agency, or General Security Service.

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