Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ya'alon leaves New Zealand in wake of arrest warrant for war crimes


"Former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Lieutenant General (res.) Moshe Ya'alon left New Zealand this week, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for suspected war crimes.

The New Zealand Justice Ministry issued the warrant on Tuesday, several days after a request by a New Zealand resident that was co-signed by various local and international human rights organizations.

The warrant names Ya'alon for ordering an Israel Air Force attack on the home of senior Hamas official Salah Shehada in the Gaza Strip in 2002. Shahada, the founder of Hamas' military wing, and one of his aides were killed in the attack along with 13 civilians.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Major General (res.) Doron Almog have evaded similar charges in Britain over the past two years.

Diplomatic ties between Israel and New Zealand have been rocky in recent years. In 2004, two members of Israel's Mossad espionage agency were imprisoned in the country for illegally trying to obtain New Zealand passports.

Wellington suspended ties with Israel in the wake of the affair, but restored relations after Jerusalem offered a formal apology."

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