Two Belgians file war crimes complaint against Israeli leaders over “flytilla” abuse

Two activists have filed a war crimes complaint with federal prosecutors in Belgium, against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.

Hajar Moumni and Muhammad Najar allege they were detained, mistreated, beaten and harshly interrogated when they took part in the “Welcome to Palestine” solidarity fly-in last summer, Belgian media have reported.

Hundreds of activists whose declared intention was to visit the West Bank at the invitation of Palestinians were detained and deported, while a tiny handful were allowed in after legal challenges to Israel’s effort to deport them.

Belgium’s universal jurisdiction law was changed after attempts to prosecute former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a decade ago over his role in the 1982 massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. Prosecutions are now only permitted if the victims of crimes allegedly committed outside the country are Belgian nationals.

The criminal complaint comes as activists are preparing for “Welcome to Palestine 2012,” another fly-in or “flytilla” scheduled to take place in April.

The Belgian news agency Belga has the report (translation by The Electronic Intifada):

“Welcome to Palestine”: two Belgians file complaint against Israel with the federal prosecutor

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

(Belga) Two Belgian participants in the mission “Welcome to Palestine” have filed a complaint against Israel for war crimes with the federal prosecutor. This is what their lawyer has announced.

Hajar Moumni and Muhammad Najar were in the West Bank from 8 to 16 July 2011 to participate in the international mission. At the airport in Tel Aviv, however, the activists were greeted by dozens of security agents, police and soldiers, armed with military weapons, says Attorney Sebastien Courtoy.

Together with other activists, the two Belgians were prevented from traveling to Palestine. In addition, according to their lawyer, they were humiliated, threatened, beaten, and some held in Israel.

The complaint against Israel is dated 9 January 2012 and is targeted at the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of the Interior (Eli Yishai) and Minister of Defense (Ehud Barak) and the commander of the armed forces Gabi Ashkenazi.

The activists mission intended to challenge the Israeli blockade of the West Bank.

The participants claim that they were subjected to intrusive physical searches, that their personal belongings were confiscated, that they were placed in isolation and then had to endure long and harsh interrogations. One of the two complainants was beaten by eight members of the security forces, according to the lawyer.

A doctor found bruises and injuries and attested to these in a medical certificate.

“After this inhuman treatment for several hours, the victims were taken to prisons in Israel, where they were detained for several days in inhuman conditions,” according to the complaint.

Attorney Courtoy recalled that Belgian law grants the power to prosecute persons in Belgium who have committed war crimes outside the country, provided that the victims have Belgian nationality.