Six lawyers will call for arrest, extradition of Israeli leaders following ‘massive terrorist attacks’ in Gaza Strip.
OSLO – Israel’s former prime minister Ehud Olmert and other top officials could face legal action in Norway over the Gaza offensive after six Norwegian lawyers said Tuesday they would accuse them of war crimes.
The lawyers, who plan to file their complaint with Norway’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday, said they will call for the arrest and extradition of Olmert as well as former foreign affairs minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and seven senior Israeli army officers.
Under the Norwegian penal code, courts may hear cases involving war crimes and other major violations of human rights.
The lawyers released a statement accusing Israel of “massive terrorist attacks” in the Gaza Strip from December 27 last year to January 25, killing civilians, illegally using weapons against civilian targets and deliberately attacking hospitals and medical staff.
“There can be no doubt that these subjects knew about, ordered or approved the actions in Gaza and that they had considered the consequences of these actions,” the lawyers’ statement said.
It also said the lawyers were representing a number of people living in Norway.
“It involves three people of Palestinian origin living in Norway and 20 families who lost loved ones or property during the attack,” one of the lawyers, Kjell Brygfjeld, said.
When questioned on the chances of the case reaching court, fellow lawyer Harald Stabell said: “If we do nothing, it is more likely that a similar attack will happen again in the future.”
“In our eyes, the political aspect is less important than the preventive aspect,” he added when asked if the move could hinder Norwegian diplomacy in the region.
Israel‘s embassy in Oslo said they were unaware of the lawyers’ attempt to bring the war crimes charges and could not immediately comment.
Israel‘s war on Gaza killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and wounded 5,450 others.
Among the dead were 437 children, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists.
The wounded include 1,890 children and 200 people in serious condition.
The war also left tens of thousands of houses destroyed, while their residents remained homeless.
Israel, which wants to crush any Palestinian liberation movement, responded to Hamas’s win in the elections with sanctions, and almost completely blockaded the impoverished coastal strip after Hamas seized power in 2007, although a ‘lighter’ siege had already existed before.
Human rights groups, both international and Israeli, slammed Israel’s siege of Gaza, branding it “collective punishment.”
A group of international lawyers and human rights activists had also accused Israel of committing “genocide” through its crippling blockade of the Strip.
Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt, Gaza’s sole border crossing that bypasses Israel, rarely opens as Egypt is under immense US and Israeli pressure to keep the crossing shut.
Fatah has little administrative say in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and has no power in Arab east Jerusalem, both of which were illegally occupied by Israel in 1967.
Israel also currently occupies the Lebanese Shabaa Farms and the Syrian Golan Heights.