22 April 2009
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert and opposition leader Tzipi Livni may face war crimes charges in Norway over their role in Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza, AFP reported Tuesday.
The news agency said six Norwegian lawyers announced plans Tuesday to accuse the pair, as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and seven senior Israel Defense Forces officers, of the crimes.
The lawyers, who planned to file their complaint with Norway’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday, were quoted as saying they would also call for the arrest and extradition of the Israeli leaders.
Under the Norwegian penal code, courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights.
The lawyers released a statement quoted by AFP accusing Israel of “massive terrorist attacks” in the Gaza Strip from December 27 last year to January 25, killing civilians, illegally using weapons against civilian targets and deliberately attacking hospitals and medical staff.
“There can be no doubt that these subjects knew about, ordered or approved the actions in Gaza and that they had considered the consequences of these actions,” the lawyers’ statement said.
It also said the lawyers were representing a number of people living in Norway.
“It involves three people of Palestinian origin living in Norway and 20 families who lost loved ones or property during the attack,” one of the lawyers, Kjell Brygfjeld, told AFP.
Israel’s stated goal in the three-week offensive was the halting of the cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza.
Gaza officials have said over 1,300 Palestinians died during the campaign, a majority of whom were civilians. But the Israel Defense Forces has disputed these claims, stating that the vast majority of the dead were Hamas militants.