On Wednesday April 22, 2009, a group of six Norwegian lawyers petitioned Norway’s Chief Prosecutor to charge Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and former Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, and seven senior Israeli army officers with War Crimes, for having committed “massive terrorist attacks” in the Gaza strip during the Gaza War. The lawyers have also asked for the arrest and extradition to Norway, of the 10 accused.
The lawyers, lead by Kjell Brygfjeld and Harald Stabell, have charged the Israelis of the crimes of “killing civilians, illegally using weapons against civilian targets and deliberately attacking hospitals and medical staff.”
Norway's public prosecutors said they would study the complaint filed by the lawyers accusing Israeli leaders of war crimes over Israel’s assault on Gaza.
The lawyers filed the complaint using a recently passed law, under which foreigners can be charged in Norway with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, even if the alleged acts were carried out elsewhere.
Siri Frigaard, chief prosecutor at Norway's National Authority for Prosecution of Organized and Other Serious Crimes said, “We received the complaint today. We will follow normal procedure, which means we will look through the complaint to determine whether or not to send it to the police to carry out a formal investigation.”More than 1400 Palestinians were killed, and at least 5300 Palestinians were wounded by Israel’s military in Gaza in the war. There is incontrovertible evidence that Israel used phosphorus bombs on civilians. Under the laws of war, it is a crime to use white phosphorus bombs in densely populated areas. Several Palestinian children burned to death by phosphorus bombs in the assault on civilians by the IDF (Israel’s Defence Forces).
Some twenty Palestinian families living in Norway have lost either loved ones or property in Gaza, lawyer Kjell Brygfjeld said.
Under Norwegian Penal Codes, Norwegian courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights. Countries such as Spain also permit their prosecutors to charge foreign leaders with war crimes.
A few weeks ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council began investigating allegations of human rights violations by both Israel and the Hamas in the Gaza War. The investigation is lead by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, an eminent jurist of unquestionable integrity.
A few other countries are also expected to follow Norway’s lead and charge the 10 Israeli Political and military leaders in the near future.
It is high time that the people who planned and perpetrated the assault on the Gaza civilians are held accountable for their nefarious deeds.
Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ