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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
Israel slams general arrest bid
Silvan Shalom
Silvan Shalom said the attempted arrest was an "outrage"
Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom has condemned a UK attempt to arrest a former Gaza Strip military commander for alleged war crimes as an "outrage".

Major General Doron Almog escaped detention at Heathrow airport on Sunday after an Israeli official warned him he was facing arrest and should fly home.

Lawyers said an arrest warrant had been issued over allegations he ordered the destruction of civilian homes in Gaza.

Mr Shalom said his government would raise the matter with UK PM Tony Blair.

Britain is one of several European countries which allows investigations of alleged war crimes involving foreign nationals if the suspect's own country is unwilling or unable to act.

We take a grave view of this
Silvan Shalom

Mr Shalom said: "The fact that Israeli soldiers and high-ranking officials are prevented from entering European countries is an outrage.

"We take a grave view of this. Don't forget that Britain has troops in Iraq. What will it do if other countries decide that British officers and soldiers committed war crimes in Iraq?

"Will they consent to having them arrested in other countries? I think it should change at once."


Maj Gen Almog said he had arrived at Heathrow with his wife for a three-day visit to raise money for a centre in Israel for brain-damaged children.

He said the attempted arrest showed any Israeli officer could now be arrested in Britain simply for having performed their duty.

"They could do this tomorrow to any officer who has served in the Israeli army over the past five years and has fought the hard fight against terror."

The warrant related to the bulldozing of more than 50 houses in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, when Maj Gen Almog was head of Israel's Southern Command.

It was seen as retaliation for an assault by Islamic militants on an Israeli Army post that left four soldiers dead.

BBC correspondent Chris Morris says his attempted arrest has caused shock and dismay in Israel.

But he says human rights groups and London-based lawyers representing the alleged Palestinian victims are also angry and have called for an investigation into how information about plans to arrest the general were leaked to Israeli officials.

Maj Gen Almog says Israel's military attaché in London boarded the plane at Heathrow to tip him off and advise him to return home.

Lawyers involved in the case say this action went beyond the acceptable limits of diplomatic activity.

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