SA issues warrants of arrest for Israeli commanders

South Africa’s Directorate of the Priority Crimes Investigation Unit (DPCIU) has issued warrants of arrest against four Israeli commanders from the Israeli Navy and Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

The warrants of arrest follow the four Israeli commanders involvement in the 2010 Israeli attacks on the Mavi Marmara aid ship. The Israeli attacks led to the deaths of 9 humanitarian activists.

The warrants of arrest have been issued against:

1. Rau Aluf Gabriel Ashkenazi, Chief of General Staff

2. Eliezer Alfred Marom, Naval Forces Commander

3. Avishay Levi, Head of Airforce intelligence

4. Amos Yadlin, Major General Chief of IDF Military Intelligence

This decision follows a four year long case involving a South African journalist, Ms. Gadija Davids, who was on board the Mavi Marmara when it was attacked in 2010. Davids laid her first complaint with the South African Police Services and South Africa’s National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) in January 2011.

In November 2012, South Africa’s Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (of the National Prosecuting Agency), found that the case met the necessary jurisdictional requirements and that reasonable grounds exist to investigate the alleged crimes that were committed during the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara (which had one South African citizen, Gadija Davids, as a passenger).

Attorney Ziyad Patel, representing Ms Davids, said in a joint press statement issued earlier today that:”These [Israeli] commanders will be arrested upon entry into the Republic of South Africa. An arrest alert notice in this regard was circulated to the South African Border Control system on 3 September 2015.”

This decision sets an important legal international law precedent. The specialised units of the SAPS, the NPA and South African Government should be commended for the issuing of these warrants of arrest. It is in line with our  international law obligations.

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa welcomes this important legal precedent. We commend the South African organisations who have been at the forefront of this legal campaign: the MRN, MLA and PSA as well as the larger Palestine solidarity movement. Israel must be held accountable for its violations of international law and acts of war crimes.