LONDON (JTA) — Hamas acknowledged that it masterminded the campaign to pursue war crimes cases against Israeli politicians and military officials in Britain and other European countries.
The group, considered to be a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom and the European Union, says it has been working with lawyers to have the Israelis charged with war crimes in connection with Israel’s Operation Cast Lead last winter.
According to reports Monday in two major British newspapers, The Times and the Daily Telegraph, the Islamic organization is acting to have Israeli leaders arrested in the United Kingdom.
Earlier this month, a judge in London issued an arrest warrant against Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni on suspicion of committing war crimes during the Gaza war. The warrant was withdrawn when it became clear that she was not in Britain.
The incident caused great embarrassment to the British government, and both Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband phoned Livni to apologize.
The Times quotes Diya al-Din Madhoun, head of the Hamas committee set up to coordinate the campaign, who said the committee had “all the political and military leaders of the occupation in our sights,” although he did not specify future targets. He told The Times that “This has absolutely become our policy.”
According to the newspaper, the committee compiled cases against 1,500 Israelis and is encouraging victims to file charges against Israelis in Britain, Spain, Belgium and Norway.
Madhoun said his committee acted as facilitator, putting the victims in touch with European lawyers.
“We have provided a group of independent lawyers in Britain with documents, information and evidence concerning war crimes committed by Israeli political and military leaders, including Ms. Livni,” he said.
Miliband said last week that Britain is urgently looking at ways to make sure that these cases cannot happen again and, in Parliament, the government said it would report on progress early in the new year.
In an article published in Monday’s Daily Telegraph, Israeli ambassador to London Ron Prosor wrote that anti-Israel activists were being allowed to abuse the British legal system.