Palestine/Israel News and Information

U.K. war crime complaints to be filed against Jerusalem municipal inspectors By Jonathan Lis

Last update – 13:34 15/09/2005

Residents of East Jerusalem whose homes were demolished by the municipality on the grounds they did not obtain the proper construction permits have decided to file complaints in the United Kingdom against inspectors, for alleged war crimes.

Building inspectors from the Jerusalem municipality may want to think twice before vacationing in Europe after criminal complaints have been sworn out in the U.K. against Major General (res.) Doron Almog and the current and former chiefs of staff, Major General Dan Halutz and Major General (res.) Moshe Ya’alon. Each year, the Interior Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality destroy dozens of buildings in East Jerusalem that were built illegally, after obtaining judicial demolition orders.

The idea of filing complaints abroad against municipal employees was first raised about six months ago in talks between the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a British law firm specializing in human rights law. The focus is on Micha Ben-Nun, the head of the municipality’s licensing department, and Zvi Schneider, who oversees construction in the Jerusalem District for the Interior Ministry. Complaints against them have been filed in Britain, but no court date has been set. ICAHD intends to expand the scope of its activities and file complaints against more senior officials or lower-ranked city inspectors.

“We’ve been planning this move for half a year now,” said Meir Margalit of ICAHD yesterday. “We approached British solicitor Daniel Machover, whose office specializes in human rights. Our main charge is that the demolition of the homes of an innocent civilian population is a violation of international law, specifically of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying state from harming the civilian population except in the course of a military operation,” Margalit said. “We believe that in a few more years, all of the European Union member states will be closed to those people [who participated in the demolitions],” Margalit said.

Both the Jerusalem municipality and the Interior Ministry said that all of their employees’ actions were taken within the framework of the law. The municipality said the relevant government bodies would deal with any complaint against Ben-Nun, while the ministry said it would give Schneider all the support and legal aid provided to government and ministry employees.

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