Photo: Reuters
Salah Shehadeh's assassination
Photo: Reuters
One of the suspects, then-Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer
Photo: AFP

Spain to press on with Israel probe

Judge says he will continue investigation of current, former Israeli officials over Air Force bombing in Gaza in 2002 which killed senior Hamas member, 14 civilians

A Spanish judge said Monday he will continue to investigate seven current and former Israeli officials over an Air Force bombing in Gaza in 2002 that killed a Hamas militant and 14 civilians.


Prosecutors last month urged Judge Fernando Andreu of Spain's National Court to suspend the inquiry on the grounds Israel was still investigating the attack. But Andreu rejected the request on Monday, saying he has found no evidence of such an investigation in Israel.


Andreu first agreed to open the case in January at the request of Palestinian relatives of victims of the attack. Nine children were among the dead.


Andreu said he was acting under Spain's observance of the principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that grave crimes such as genocide, terrorism or torture can be prosecuted here even if alleged to have been committed elsewhere.


Andreu said the 2002 bombing in densely populated Gaza City might constitute a crime against humanity. That attack with a one-ton bomb dropped from an Israeli F-16 targeted and killed alleged Hamas member Salah Shehadeh along with 14 other people.


On Monday, the Spanish judge wrote that Israel's military conducted an internal investigation but Israeli military and civilian prosecutors declined to open proceedings of their own. He said for this reason Spain has jurisdiction to keep investigating.


"In Israel there has not been, nor is there now under way, any legal proceedings aimed at investigating" the Gaza bombing, the judge wrote.


Andreu's initial decision to investigate infuriated the Israeli government. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said in response that Spain planned to modify its law to narrow the scope of universal jurisdiction cases to those with a clear link to Spain.


But no reform to this effect has yet to make it to the Spanish parliament for debate or a vote.


פרסום ראשון: 05.04.09, 14:00
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