Spain drops Israeli war crimes probe

By Jessica Elgot, June 30, 2009

The National Court in Spain has dropped a war crimes investigation into an air attack by the Israel Defence Forces on a Hamas target in Gaza in July 2002.

Saleh Shehadeh, a leading militant of Hamas was killed when the Israeli Air Force bombed his Gaza home in an explosion which killed 14 other people, mostly women and children.

Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu argued the bombing was a crime against humanity and the case had caused some diplomatic tension between Spain and Israel.

The suspects named for crimes by Andreu included former defence minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and six IDF officers and security officials.

The court decision to abandon the case came after last month’s preliminary approval by the Spanish parliament of a law to limit the right of Spanish judges to investigate alleged serious war crimes and human rights violations abroad when the home country does not act.

If translated into a law, the resolution would restrict Spain, which had been praised by international campaigners, to only investigating cases in which the accused is in Spain or Spaniards are victims.

Last updated: 4:49pm, June 30 2009