IDF colonel leaves speaking tour of UK for fear of arrest
|Wednesday, February 4,2009 04:53|
|By Jonny Paul|
An Israeli colonel involved in Operation Cast Lead returned to Israel in haste on Friday, fearing arrest on charges of war crimes during a visit to the UK.
Col. (res.) Geva Rapp had arrived in London three days before for appearances in which he was to explain Israel"s position and refute media representations of the hostilities.
His trip had been cleared by Israeli security services.
On Thursday night, after news of his visit reached pro-Palestinian groups, some 80 protesters demonstrated outside the offices of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) in central London, where Rapp was scheduled to speak.
Calling for police to arrest him, the protesters blocked public pathways, while one scaled the building"s walls. Police made several arrests.
The event was cancelled and the decision was made for Rapp to return to Israel out of fear of a universal jurisdiction arrest warrant for alleged war crimes.
A loophole in British law allows private criminal complaints of war crimes to be lodged against military personnel, even if they are not British citizens and the alleged crimes were committed elsewhere. Pro-Palestinian groups in Britain and other countries have been trying to exploit the loophole against IDF officers and Israeli leaders.
Israel is working with the British government to change the law.
Before leaving Britain, Rapp addressed students at the Hasmonean and Jewish Free (JFS) high schools in London. He also spoke at events organized by the Jewish Agency and Aish UK.