February 20, 2008

Almog update

Remember Doron Almog? He was the Israeli general who the British police apparently tipped off that he was facing war crimes charges, like so many Israeli adult males, if he got off his El Al plane at Heathrow Airport. Well it appears the police were scared that they might be shot by Israelis if they tried to effect an arrest at the airport.

That's according to this BBC report anyway.
An Israeli general wanted for alleged war crimes escaped arrest in the UK because British police feared an armed confrontation at Heathrow airport.

Documents seen by BBC News reveal how Major General Doron Almog managed to fly back to Israel when police failed to board his plane in September 2005.

He stayed on board for two hours after a tip-off that he was facing detention.

Police were concerned about a potential clash with Israeli air marshals or armed personal security on the plane.

Maj Gen Almog had flown to the UK for social and charitable visits to Jewish communities in Solihull, in the West Midlands, and Manchester.

Lawyers acting for Palestinian campaigners lobbied the Metropolitan Police to act over allegations he had ordered the destruction in 2002 of more than 50 Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.

Campaigners say the homes were destroyed by the Israeli army as retribution for a Palestinian militant attack, in contravention of the laws of war protecting civilian property. Israel says destruction of Palestinian houses is among the necessary measures it takes to protect its citizens.

The Met initially refused to get involved, citing massive pressures on counter-terrorism teams in the wake of the London bombings.

But the legal representatives successfully applied to a judge for an arrest warrant for a private prosecution.
Now I thought it was a magistrate they applied to but never mind that. Didn't the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, issue some grovelling apology over this? Yes he did.
The Foreign Office says Mr Straw apologised to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom "as a courtesy".

"He was saying he was sorry if the incident had embarrassed the Israelis," said a Foreign Office spokesman.
Given that we now know that British police were scared of being shot by officers of a "friendly" country in the UK's main airport, shouldn't it be the UK that's embarrassed about this?

Thanks to Montag

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