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Lawyers file complaint in Morocco seeking arrest of Israel officials

A group of lawyers on Monday filed a complaint with a Morocco prosecutor seeking the arrest of several high ranking Israeli officials over their involvement in Operation Cast Lead [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The complaint names former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak [BBC profiles] for violating anti-terror laws [AFP report] and laws requiring the protection of civilians during the 22-day conflict in the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. If the complaint is accepted by the Rabat chief prosecutor, the Israeli officials would face arrest upon entering Moroccan jurisdiction. Israeli officials have faced several arrest threats following the operation in which an estimated 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. In January, a military delegation canceled a trip to the UK [JURIST report] over fears that they would be arrested on war crimes charges for their involvement in the conflict under several British warrants. The arrest warrants were the result of Palestinian plaintiffs working with British lawyers to file charges against Israeli officials under universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder], which allows a country to prosecute serious crimes against humanity no matter where the activity takes place. In December, Livni canceled a UK trip [JURIST report] after a British magistrate court issued, and later revoked, an arrest warrant for her on war crimes charges relating to the Gaza offensive.

Israel has faced mounting international pressure following the Gaza conflict. The Goldstone Report [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] accused both the Israel Defense Force (IDF) [official website] and Hamas [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] of war crimes during the conflict. Both Israel and Hamas conducted independent investigations into the incident after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution [JURIST report] in November giving them three months to probe possible war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict. Hamas reported to the UN that its independent investigation had absolved Palestinian forces of any wrongdoing. Israel presented a report to the UN in February detailing its role in the conflict [JURIST report] and noting that two high-ranking Israeli officers were indicted for their actions during the incident. Rights groups have questioned the impartiality of the internal investigations. In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused both Israel and Hamas of failing to conduct credible investigations [JURIST report] into accusations of war crimes during the conflict. In February, HRW criticized Israel for failing to demonstrate that it would conduct a thorough and impartial investigation [JURIST report] of the alleged war crimes.

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