Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon escaped an arrest during a visit to New Zealand.
The warrant, which was filed by a New Zealand citizen against Yaalon for alleged war crimes, was cancelled at the last minute after the local Justice Ministry interfered, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported Thursday.
The Foreign Ministry confirmed that a legal claim wad filed in New Zealand and was later rejected by attorney general in Auckland. Ministry officials told Ynet, "We are continuing to follow the affair. In the meantime, Yaalon had ended his tour there."
On Tuesday, during a visit to New Zealand, it was decided not to arrest Yaalon or launch legal proceedings against him, although Auckland's District Judge Deobhakta issued a warrant for Yaalon's arrest a day before he arrived in the country.
The reason for the arrest: Allegedly committing a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, which is a criminal offense in New Zealand under the Geneva Conventions Act 1958 and International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000.
According to the Palestinian center, the Israel Defense Forces under the command of Yaalon, who served as chief of staff from July 9, 2002 to June 1, 2005, was responsible for a wide range of human rights violations and war crimes ins the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The command was given because of Hamas military wing leader Salah Shahade's assassination on July 22, 2002 when a one ton bomb was dropped on his house, killing 15 people, including women and children.
Lawyers in New Zealand presented findings to the Auckland District Court in support of issuing an arrest warrant against Yaalon. However, police consulted with New Zealand's solicitor-general, who advises the attorney-general on issues of this sort.
Once it appeared that the solicitor-general was intended to recommend against authorizing prosecution of Yaalon, the attorney-general issued documentation to the District Court not to prosecute, despite the judge's ruling that there are "good and sufficient reasons" to arrest Moshe Yaalon.
Dr. Ishai Menuchin, spokesman of the Israeli organization Yesh Gvul, which advocates for those unwilling to serve in the IDF, said to Ynet, "As long as the Supreme Court will return to filling its role as the court of last appeals in the State of Israel
and orders investigation of suspected war crimes, it will be best for all of us.
"The court's abstention from ordering the investigation of suspected war crimes causes more and more officers and soldiers in the IDF to be exposed to legal proceedings abroad."
Ronny Sofer contributed to the report