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Brussels: New court to try Israel for war crimes

Sharon Roffe-OfirPublished: 02.22.08, 13:02 / Israel News

Saturday 23 February 2008

Civil court established by human rights organizations to begin operations in Belgium Friday. First issue on the agenda: Israel’s alleged war crimes in Lebanon, Gaza

A new civil court founded in Belgium by human rights organizations will convene for the first time Friday evening and discuss war crimes Israel had allegedly committee during the Second Lebanon War and war crimes the groups claim it is currently committing in the Gaza Strip.

Over the past year, human rights groups, in cooperation with Arab and European intellectuals, have been working on establishing the new court, which will be tasked with addressing different issues related to human rights violations and war crimes.

The first matter on the court’s agenda will be Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip. Human rights organizations, as well as the victims of these alleged crimes, will appear before the court. The court has also invited Israeli representatives to attend the hearing and respond to the accusations.

’Fundamental rights violated’
The Israeli-Arab party Balad, who has also been invited to the discussions as an observer, will be represented by Knesset Member Said Naffaa. “I intend to bring up for discussion the attorney general’s recent decision to close the case of the October 2000 riots,” said Naffaa, who is already in Brussels.

“I will also raise the subject of the demolition of Israeli-Arabs’ homes by the government. These may not be war crimes, but they are crimes against the fundamental tights of the State’s citizens,” he added.

According to the MK, "It is too soon to judge what the outcome of these deliberations might be, but it can certainly be said that many operations that had been carried out during the Second Lebanon War, such as the launching of cluster bombs, constitute war crimes.

“Furthermore, actions that take place in the Gaza Strip every day, including the targeting of civilians and denying them proper medical care, are war crimes and should be addressed by international law.”

“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law” (From Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948)