Spanish court to decide on Gaza trial

Complaint lodged by rights group, filed against 7 Israeli leaders, including Ya'alon, Ben-Eliezer.

gaza tunnel air strike smoke 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza tunnel air strike smoke 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Spain's Appellate Court, the highest court in the country, is due in the coming days to consider whether to allow a Spanish judge to continue investigating a complaint lodged against seven Israeli leaders, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The seven include former army chiefs of staff Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya'alon and former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. Ya'alon is currently minister of strategic affairs and Ben-Eliezer is minister of industry, trade and labor. The complaint, which was lodged by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), involved the targeted killing on July 22, 2002, of Saleh Shehadeh, commander of Hamas's Izzadin Kassam military wing in the Gaza Strip. The report could not be confirmed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The Spanish prosecution is expected to argue that Spain should not deal with this case because the probe into the killing was thorough and serious enough. The Israeli inquiry reportedly found no premeditated intention to kill civilians, and that the fact that there were innocent people in the building at the time had not been known to commanders when they approved the air strike. Had they known, they would have called it off, as they did several times before for that reason. Israeli officials reportedly believe the Spanish Appellate Court will reject the petition by the PCHR. Shehadeh was killed when an Israel Air Force plane dropped a one-ton bomb on the apartment building in Gaza City where he was spending the night. Palestinian officials said 15 people were killed in the raid - Shehadeh, 49, his wife, a daughter, and his right-hand man, Zaher Nasser, 35, as well as nine children. There has been no public investigation in Israel of the attack. The left-wing movement Yesh Gvul petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding the state launch a criminal investigation of Halutz, who was commander of the air force at the time of the bombing. The court rejected the petition after proposing that a special committee be established to investigate the affair. The government agreed and appointed attorney Zvi Inbar, former military advocate-general and legal adviser to the Knesset, to head it. The committee has never made its findings public. It had no obligation to do so because it had the status of a military investigation. It is not clear whether it was Inbar's committee that came to the conclusion that the military leadership did not know anyone else was in the building when it ordered the strike.