Israel protests at Spanish probe into Gaza raid

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High-ranking Israeli officials call the case politically motivated and vow to get the investigation dismissed.

JERUSALEM – Israel on Thursday strongly protested at a decision by a Spanish judge to probe alleged crimes against humanity over a 2002 Israeli bombing raid in Gaza implicating senior army officers.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said he would do his utmost to obtain the dismissal the probe, while Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told her Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos that the case was politically motivated.

A Spanish judge agreed to pursue a complaint of crimes against humanity against Israel's army over a 2002 bombing raid on Gaza in which Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh was killed, along with 14 civilians, mainly children.

Barak "intends to fight vigorously against the accusations in Spain and do everything possible to get the investigation dismissed," the defence ministry said in a statement.

Barak "vehemently rejects the insane announcement by a Spanish judge," the ministry said. "Anyone who considers the elimination of a terrorist a crime against humanity lives in an upside-down world."

"All those in charge of defence have acted and continue to act in a proper manner in the name of the state of Israel, in the name of their duty to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel," Barak was quoted as saying.

Livni told Moratinos in a telephone conversation that "Israel is treating (the decision) with utmost gravity," describing it as "political, not judicial".

Livni said that the judge "decided to go ahead with the probe without being in possession of all the documents necessary to the case," a statement said.

The foreign ministry also announced that its legal section will do everything in its power to defend the Israelis implicated in the case and "abolish very quickly an unacceptable judicial decision".

The complaint names former defence minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and five other former top officials.

[AFP / Expatica]

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