Israeli Commander Cancels UK Tour

From the Muslim News:

London, (IRNA): The deputy commander of Israeli ground forces during the recent Gaza massacres has cancelled 20 speaking engagements during a planned tour of Britain, according to the Jewish organisers of his secret visit.

Colonel Geva Rapp was understood to have fled back to Israel fearing a citizens’ arrest for war crimes during his visit to Britain which was aimed to defend the slaughter of more than 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza to members of the country’s estimated 270,000 Jewish community.

“Due to the negative security situation and increasing risk that was steadily brewing around Colonel Geva Rapps’ visit to the UK, our guest has asked us to cancel all further speaking engagements,” said Rabbi Naftali Schiff, executive director of Aish UK educational organisation.

The cancellation was revealed in an internal email obtained by councillors from all four parties on Birmingham City Council, who welcomed the decision after condemning his invitation to Britain’s second largest city as both “offensive and provocative.”

“In view of the massacre of innocent Palestinians in Gaza, including over 400 children, we feel this person should be charged with war crimes instead of being encouraged to travel freely in the UK,” the local councillors said in a statement.

The signatories, all from different wards in Birmingham, included Salma Yaqood from the Respect Party, James Hutchings from the Conservative, Tahir Ali from Labour and Tariq Khan from the Liberal Democrats.

The councillors said they have been very clear in their opposition to anything that would cause division between communities in the city but were “not prepared, however, to be silent in the face of the injustice being done to the Palestinian people.”

“Together we have promoted peaceful and non-violent protest, including a call upon the City Council for it to boycott Israeli goods and services until such time as Israel complies with international law,” their statement said.

Last Thursday night, protesters caused Rapp to cancel a speech at the offices of the Union of Jewish Students in central London, after blocking the public pathways and a main thoroughfare during rush-hour traffic after being tipped off about the visit.

Copies of internal emails seen by IRNA had emphasised that the invitation was “for the Jewish community and known supporters of Israel only.”

“Do not put forward anything connected with this on Facebook, do not forward this email invitation on to mass distribution lists. His presence should only be advertised via personal email/word of mouth within the Jewish community and/or friends of Israel. It should not be openly advertised to the general public,” it warned.

In September 2005, an Israeli major, Doron Almog, escaped arrest at Heathrow airport for war crimes linked to the mass destruction of Palestinian houses, when he refused to leave his El Al plane and immediately fled back to Tel Aviv.

And in the Jerusalem Post:

The event was cancelled and the decision was made for Rapp to return to Israel out of fear of a universal jurisdiction arrest warrant for alleged war crimes.

A loophole in British law allows private criminal complaints of war crimes to be lodged against military personnel, even if they are not British citizens and the alleged crimes were committed elsewhere. Pro-Palestinian groups in Britain and other countries have been trying to exploit the loophole against IDF officers and Israeli leaders.

Israel is working with the British government to change the law.

Before leaving Britain, Rapp addressed students at the Hasmonean and Jewish Free (JFS) high schools in London. He also spoke at events organized by the Jewish Agency and Aish UK.

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