The Spanish High Court says it will launch a war crimes investigation into seven Israelis, including a former defence minister, over a 2002 attack that killed 14 civilians and a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip.
Spanish law allows the prosecution of foreigners for such crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity and torture committed anywhere in the world. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called the Gaza legal case "delusional" on Thursday.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is bringing the case against then-Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and six military personnel involved in the decision to drop a one-tonne bomb from an F-16 plane into a housing block on July 22, 2002.
Although the blast killed Hamas commander Salah Shehada the human rights organisation said it was only bringing the case on behalf of the families of 14 civilians killed, nine of whom were children, and 96 injured.
Palestinian Centre's lawyer Gonzalo Boye said: “If Israel would like to be a civilised nation it will have to accept the rule of law, and the rule of law is not served with a 1,000-kg bomb.
“I do not justify the actions of Hamas. I think both parties are guilty. The only people that are innocent are the civilian victims. We have excluded from our criminal case that person from Hamas who was the target of the Israeli army.”
Judge Fernando Andreus will lead the investigation which will last several years. The case was taken up by after Israel declined to reply to a question from the court last August as to whether the seven would be tried at home.
This is all well and good. I fully approve of Israel and Hamas being called to account for the slaughter of innocents. However is this the job of the Spanish court system and should it not be left to an international court of justice?
I beg this question as Spain’s judges are about to go on strike in protest at their workload and lack of resources. Many important cases are suffering lengthy delays because of the huge backlog. The Huelva child Mari Luz Cortes died after being kidnapped by a paedophile who should have been in prison at the time if the court system had been working effectively. Yes I believe in justice – but Spain needs justice first before its courts go show boating on the international stage.