Indicted war criminal on payroll of UK Israel lobby

On Friday, I wrote about how Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli brigadier general, is working for one of the most influential Zionist lobby outfits in London. After doing some more research, I realized that as well as being a “senior visiting fellow” with the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM), Herzog is the subject of war crime proceedings in Spain.

In January 2009, Spain’s national court decided to open an investigation into Herzog and six other Israeli political and military figures over their involvement in the 2002 bombing of a residential area in Gaza.

The attack was supposedly a “targeted assassination” of Salah Shehadeh, commander of Hamas’ military wing the Izzedeen al-Qassam Brigades. Along with Shehadeh, 14 other Palestinians died. They included a two month old infant, seven other children and two elderly men. Numerous others were injured in the blast from the 2,000 pound bomb used by Israeli forces; 11 houses in the al-Daraj district of Gaza City were irreparably damaged.

Herzog was an adviser to Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then Israeli defense minister, at the time of the attack. On 29 January 2009, both men (and their co-accused) were ordered to present themselves in Spain within 30 days.

The case has been taken by four Spanish lawyers and the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The lawyers have invoked a law on universal jurisdiction, which allows the Spanish judicial authorities to investigate crimes against humanity throughout the world.

Fugitive from justice

This morning I called BICOM to ask if it was aware of the proceedings against Herzog when it decided to put him on its payroll. “I have no idea”, BICOM’s spokesman Dermot Kehoe told me, explaining that he was not yet working for BICOM when Herzog was appointed.

Kehoe promised to examine my query further and get back to me. If he does (and has anything of substance to say), I’ll happily update this blog post.

In the meantime, it is fair to surmise that BICOM was perfectly aware of the proceedings against Herzog, just as it was aware that he counselled Ehud Barak, the current Israeli defense minister, on the conduct of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

It is true that Herzog probably will not be held accountable for his crimes by a Spanish court. Miguel Moratinos, then Spain’s foreign minister, gave an undertaking to his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in early 2009 that the Spanish universal jurisdiction law would be watered down. Directly as a result of Israeli pressure, the law (which has been in force since 1985) was amended last year.

Spain’s capitulation to Israel does not provide BICOM with any excuse for hiring an indicted war criminal. It should be noted, in particular, that the Spanish national court reprimanded the state of Israel for refusing to cooperate with its handling of the case against Herzog and his co-accused.

It can, therefore, be concluded that BICOM has hired a fugitive from justice.

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How do we go about getting this criminal out of UK? Who do we contact? No point in the PM - he was in Friends of Israel.

David Cronin

David Cronin's picture

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013). His earlier book is Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2011).