Israel’s attorney general has determined that too much time has elapsed to allow for the prosecution of Israeli soldiers who may have been involved in the alleged execution of Egyptian prisoners of war.
Michael Ben-Yair, in a statement issued this week by the Justice Ministry, called the alleged killings of Egyptian POWs during the 1956 Sinai Campaign and the 1967 Six-Day War “unlawful and intolerable.”
But Israel’s 20-year statute of limitations for criminal acts had expired, the attorney general added.
“As a result, there is no legal possibility of bringing to trial anyone involved in incidents that took place almost 40 years ago, or 28 years ago,” Ben-Yair said in the statement.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Ben-Yair said he had reached the decision after reviewing appeals he had received from public figures and citizens calling for an investigation into the incidents from both wars.
The controversy over the fate of Egyptian POWs surfaced earlier this month, when several Israeli veterans and historians came forward with claims that they had witnessed or participated in the killings during the 1956 and 1967 wars.
This week, an Israeli historian purported that some 200 Israeli POWs had been killed by Egyptian troops during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The disclosures regarding the 1956 and 1967 was prompted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to call on Israel to investigate and prosecute those soldiers responsible for killing Egyptian POWs.
Mubarak, interviewed on Israeli television, said the investigations could prevent a crisis between the two countries.
He also said he was ready to look into reports that Egyptian soldiers had killed Israeli POWs.
“I am prepared to investigate the reports about the murder of Israeli soldiers,” he said.