Spanish court to look into Israeli war crimes

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Spanish court will pursue a war crimes investigation against Israeli officials in the killing of a Hamas leader.

Judge Fernando Andreu of the Spanish National Court announced Monday that he will pursue an investigation into the 2002 bombing that killed Salah Shehade in the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that court prosecutors advised against it, according to reports.

The prosecutors supplied the judge with documents showing that Israel has already investigated the attack, which also killed 14 civilians. The judge said he did not believe Israel had properly investigated the case.

Israeli officials named in the investigation, launched after a complaint was filed with the court by a Palestinian human rights group on behalf of family members of the dead, include former and current army officers and security officials, as well as former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.

The Spanish court has said that it can investigate and try human rights and war crimes cases if the country of origin does not. It has investigated such cases throughout the world.

Isarel’s Foreign Ministry called the decision a "cynical move" in a statement released Monday.

"This decision was made in complete contradiction to the prosecutor’s opinion," the statement read. "We have no doubt that this decision is nothing but another cynical move aimed at exploiting the Spanish legal system against Israel, and that it will be annulled after an appeal is filed."

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