UK-based rights group calls on police to probe citizens joining Israeli force

Israeli reserve forces enter the Gaza Strip in January 2009 

London (QNN)- The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate British citizens who have joined the Israeli Occupation Forces, raising concerns that they have committed war crimes against Palestinians.

In a statement issued on July 18, the ICJP said it had sent the request to a special war crimes unit on June 1 following reports that British citizens were being recruited by Israeli occupation to take part in military operations through the Mahal volunteer programme, a recruitment programme in which scores of foreign Jews including Britons are trained and serve as part of the Israeli occupation forces.

“Given the range of grave criminal acts and international crimes that are committed in Israel/Palestine by the IDF, it is highly likely that these Britons could be actively involved in war crimes as part of their recruitment duties,” the ICJP wrote.

The recruits have been accused of war crimes for their role “in the collective punishment and killings of Palestinians in the [occupied] West Bank,” the Islamic Human Rights Commission has said.

The ICJP added that its request was “as far as we are aware, [the] first legal submission” sent to the special police unit, despite previous instances of Metropolitan Police investigations into people who travelled to Syria and Ukraine to fight.

As part of their request, they submitted a dossier to the S015 War Crimes Unit with details of war crimes and crimes against humanity including breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention committed at times when Britons were serving in the Israeli military.

“These include torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the use of ‘human shields’ and unlawful killings, collective punishment, blocking of humanitarian relief and medical assistance, and the destruction of property without military necessity.”

“Scotland Yard’s S015 War Crimes Unit has acknowledged receipt of the request, the statement said, and it is currently under review.

“The ICJP contends that it is an indisputable fact that members of the IDF have committed or been involved in war crimes or acts that fall foul of national counter terrorism legislation.”

“The evidence points to it being highly likely that British citizens joining those forces for extended periods may have themselves committed crimes which are contrary to UK law and the British Government’s internationalRuss obligations.”

It added, “UK authorities have so far not investigated if British nationals taking part in Israeli military action have commited crimes or terrorism, or investigated citizens who have returned to the UK after having joined in the IDF.”

“This is contrary to the actions the Met Police has taken with respect to British citizens who have travelled to Syria and to some degree to Ukraine,” it added.

Rhys Davies, a British international criminal law barrister said: “Scotland Yard is currently concerned by British citizens travelling to fight in Ukraine. Prior to this, focus has been on individuals travelling abroad to fight in Syria. It is important that these issues also demand attention. British citizens training and fighting in Israel and Palestine should also be the subject of investigation, in order to ensure this country’s obligations under international law are met.”

Yuval Joyce Shalev, the ICJP caseworker and analyst who worked on the dossier stated, “As a matter of principle, Scotland Yard should see to it more forcefully that British nationals who chose to join the IDF and fight in full combat roles are investigated just as those who join other foreign military forces are.”

“The lack of application of this policy to those who join the IDF betrays a truth about British policy on Israel: it is, on the whole, woefully lenient. Those who go abroad of their own volition and perpetrate international crimes and terrorism must be prosecuted, irrespective of their religious or ethnic background.”

(Source / 23.07.2022)

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