Ref: 99/2010


 

The Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights (PCHR) notes that the Spanish authorities refused to provide Avi
Dichter, former Director of the Israeli General Security Services, with
requested immunity prior to a planned visit to Spain. Mr. Dichter is currently
the subject of a criminal lawsuit before the Spanish Courts in relation to his
role in the Al Daraj assassination of July 22, 2002.

 

PCHR applaud this move, noting a
welcome return to the rule of law. Spain, along with all other High Contracting
Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, is subject to a legal obligation to
search for and prosecute all those suspected of committing grave breaches of
the Geneva Conventions.

 

Spain’s move comes as a
reaffirmation of the desire to ensure that Spain does not become a ‘safe haven’
where suspected war criminals can travel with impunity. However, PCHR note that
following intense political pressure from the Israeli government, Spain
recently modified its existing universal jurisdiction laws. Such political
pressure has no place in the international legal order. All those suspected of
committing international crimes must be investigated, and if appropriate prosecuted;
victims’ rights must be upheld. PCHR urge Spain to repeal recent amendments to
the universal jurisdiction law, noting that these amendments way violate
Spain’s international obligations.

 

The Al Daraj case, brought by PCHR,
Hickman & Rose (UK) and Spanish partners Gonzalo Boye, Antonio Segura, Juan
Moreno and Raul Maillo, is
currently pending before the Spanish
Constitutional Court.

 

Background
information relating to the Al Daraj attack

 

On
22 July 2002, at approximately 11:55 pm, an Israeli Air Force F16 fighter jet
dropped a 985 kilogramme bomb on a three-storey apartment building. The attack
was intended to kill Salah Shehadeh, the suspected leader of the Izzidin
al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas’ military wing. The apartment building was located within
the densely populated Al Daraj district, a residential neighbourhood in Gaza
City. At the time of the attack, Shehade was on the upper floor of the
building. As a result of the blast impact, eight other adjoining and nearby
apartment buildings were completely destroyed, nine were partially destroyed,
and another 21 sustained considerable damage. Excluding Shehade and his guard,
a total of 14 civilians were killed, including eight children. Approximately
150 civilians were injured.

 

Israeli
officials have acknowledged that they decided to drop the bomb on Shehadeh’s
house knowing his wife was with him, intentionally killing her as well. The
decision to attack apparently also took into consideration the possibility
that, along with Shehadeh, approximately 10 civilians would also be killed.

 

This
attack was planned in advance, targeted a densely populated residential area,
and was conducted at a time when it could reasonably be expected that there
would be an extremely high number of civilians present. This attack constitutes
a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and as part of wide spread
and systematic war crimes, it also classifies as a crime against humanity.

 

Those implicated include: former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, his former military
advisor Michael Herzog, former IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Moshe
Yaalon, former Shin Bet Director Avi Dichter, former Israel Air Force Commander
General Dan Halutz, former head of the IDF Operation Branch Major-General Giora
Eiland, and former Southern Command Chief Doron Almog.