PRESS RELEASE – A group of Norwegian lawyers has submitted a complaint to The National Authority for Prosecution of Organised and Other Serious Crime.

A group of Norwegian lawyers has submitted a complaint to The National Authority for Prosecution of Organised and Other Serious Crime.

The complaint is submitted pursuant to the Norwegian Penal Code Articles 102 to 109 and concerns crimes of war and gross violation of international humanitarian law and is directed against Israel’s attack on Gaza in the period from 27th December 2008 till 25th January 2009.

The offences in question relates to:

– killing of civilians and other inhuman acts that cause extraordinary suffering,
– massive destruction of private and public property for the purpose of terror,
– targeted attacks on hospitals, health institutions, ambulances and other vehicles that are entitled to protection and on personnel serving such entities,
– massive terror attacks primarily directed against the people of Gaza,
– illegal use of weapons against civilian targets, hereunder white phosphor, DIME -weapons and flechette grenades.

The complaint is made against the following subjects:

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Former Minister of Foreign affairs Tzipi Livni
Former Minister of Defence Ehud Barak
Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi
Commander of the IDF Army Headquarter Major General Avi Mizrahi
Commander of the Israel Navy Admiral Eliezer Marom
Commander of the Israel Air Force Major General Ido Nehoshtan
GOC Southern Command Major General Yoav Galant
Commander of the Givati brigade Colonel Ilan Malka
Commander of the Golani brigade Colonel Avi Peled

The subjects of this complaint represented the top leadership during the attack on Gaza and thereby those ultimately responsible for Israel’s acts of war. The three first mentioned are also members of Israel’s “War Cabinet”. There can be no doubt that these subjects knew about, ordered or approved the actions in Gaza and that they had considered the consequences of these actions. Under any circumstances, they failed to stop the contravention when they became aware of them, despite being able to do so.

Israel’s declared purpose by the actions in Gaza was to provide a collective punishment to the people in Gaza, for the purpose of hitting Hamas. This was clearly stated by Israel’s military leaders, prior to and during the course of the actions. The statements from the military leaders were supported on the highest political authority, inasmuch as President Shimon Peres, on 14th January 2009, stated that: “Our aim was to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza, so that they lose their appetite to continue to shoot at us. That’s it.”

It is therefore our clear opinion that the contraventions contained in this complaint have been performed intentinally. Under any circumstances, it is clear that Israel, during the course of the actions have contravened basic regulations of international law, pertaining to warfare, hereunder the duty to discriminate between military and civil targets. It is also obvious that, to the extent Israel has engaged military targets, the civil damages are of such a magnitude that they cannot be defended by the military advantages gained.

During the course of Israel’s attack, more that 1.434 Palestinians were killed. Among these around 90% were civilians whereof close to 288 were children while 121 were women. In any case, it is expected that these figures will increase further, since bodies are still being excavated from the ruins. Moreover, many of the most severely wounded are dying subsequently. In addition to the dead, more that 5,300 Palestinians were physically injured, of which 1,872 children and 800 women. Many of the injuries are of extreme nature and the doctors assume this is due to the use of white phosphorus and DIME weapons in densely populated areas. Approximately 10,000 Palestinians have been driven from their homes in consequence of the attack.

The material damage in Gaza is very extensive, in that systematic attacks were directed against all sections of the Gaza community, including private homes, civilian administration buildings, business, agriculture, health institutions, cultural institutions, schools, day-care centres, NGO entities and infrastructure such as communications, energy supplies, water and sewage systems. In all, 15,550 private dwellings, 36 buildings for public administration, 268 day-care centres, schools and university buildings plus 52 mosques were damaged or totally destroyed. Agriculture, and thereby food production for Gaza’s population, was particularly badly hit through extensive destruction of cultivatable land, irrigation systems and through the killing of 35,750 cattle, sheep and goats plus over one million poultry. In all 701 industrial companies were wholly or partially destroyed. The ecological damage from the attack is also considerable.

It is requested that the subjects of this complaint be arrested, should they come to Norway, alternatively that they be searched for and arrested through the international police collaboration in which Norway participates. Moreover, it is requested that they be indicted and punished. Norway has both a duty and a right to see to it that such prosecution be made.

This follows from the Norwegian Penal code, seen in conjunction with humanitarian obligations Norway are committed to, among them the Geneva Convention of 1949, with additional Protocols from 1977, and the Rome Statutes of 1998 for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Hereto comes that Norway, due to its long lasting engagement in the Middle-East, by way of supply of UN soldiers, mediation for peace and now by way of holding the chairmanship of the international donor group for Palestine, has a particular incentive to prosecute massive war crimes against innocent civilians in the region. In addition, through its recent history, Norway is not unfamiliar to invasion, oppression and crimes of war.

We are also representing several individuals, living in Norway, who may be regarded as victims within the meaning of the Penal Code, in that they have lost close family and assets in connection with the contraventions covered by this complaint. These victims accede to the proceedings and will claim damage in the event of prosecution.

Oslo 22nd April 2009

Attorneys Loai Deeb, Pål Hadler, Bent Endresen, Geir Høin, Harald Stabell og Kjell M. Brygfjeld