Bracing for 'war crime' battles abroad

Foreign Ministry warns officials against making "careless statements."

doron almog 298.88 (photo credit: IDF)
doron almog 298.88
(photo credit: IDF)
The Foreign Ministry has sent a warning to political and military officials against making "careless statements" that could be used against them by anti-Israel groups who will try to get war crimes indictments against Israeli officials traveling abroad. One Foreign Ministry official said the issue was not new, and that an interministerial committee made up of representatives from the security establishment and the foreign and defense ministries met regularly to assess where there may be potential problems and how to combat them. Over the last few years, there have been a number of high-profile legal cases involving Israelis: a war crimes complaint against former prime minister Ariel Sharon in Belgium that in 2002-2003 moved its way through the Belgian legal system stemming from the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, and the near-arrest last year of former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, who landed in London but did not disembark after he was warned that detectives were waiting to take him into custody on suspicion of war crimes. According to the warning, "careless statements" could have an impact on groups that are believed to be forming abroad in order to bring war crimes charges against Israeli officials. "This has been on our radar screen for some time, and is not really anything new," one official said. What is new, however, is the war in Lebanon, and the likelihood that these types of initiatives will now sprout up. One official said that as of now, the Foreign Ministry had not issued any wholesale recommendations advising Israeli officers or politicians against traveling abroad because of this concern.