Report: Former Israeli Navy chief briefly detained in London airport
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (R) and Eliezer Marom, Commander of the Israel Navy, attend a graduation ceremony for cadets in the northern city of Haifa in this Jan. 16, 2008 file photo. (Photo: Reuters, Gil Cohen Magen)
Retired Rear-Admiral Eliezer Marom, commander of the Israeli navy during Operation Cast Lead and the raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara flotilla, was briefly detained and questioned by the British police at London's Heathrow airport upon arrival on Monday.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israeli embassy was looking into the issue after Marom claimed he was detained. The circumstances of his detention were unclear, but under British law, permission to arrest foreign citizens for war crimes is limited.
Many Israeli commanders prefer to stay away from foreign trips or vacations to avoid any legal probes over their involvement in the 2008-2009 Gaza war as many international organizations cite the Israeli military for persistent violations of international law and demand they face trial for war crimes.
Marom said later on Monday that he was not arrested by the British police. He added that the police didn't ask any questions about the Mavi Marmara during the brief interrogation. Marom was the commander when Israeli navy commandos raided the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship in May 2010, killing nine civilians onboard and prompting an international outcry as well as Turkey's outrage over the deadly use of force against its citizens.
Ankara immediately demanded an apology over the incident and downgraded its diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv to a historic low by expelling the Israeli ambassador to Turkey in September 2011. After three years of foot-dragging, Tel Aviv offered an official apology in March in what appeared to be a US-brokered reconciliation effort.
Last week, an İstanbul court which is hearing the case opened against the retired Israeli military officers over the raid of the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship has rejected lawyers' request for an Interpol Red Notice for several high-ranking retired members of the Israeli army.
One plaintiff's lawyer, Cüneyt Karaman, told the judge that it is not possible to conduct a trial without suspects being present at the court, and thus the court should pursue an Interpol Red Notice for the accused former Israeli army members. However, the request was denied by the court. The hearings were adjourned to March 27, 2014.
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has identified the four accused as former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Rau Aluf Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces Commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and Air Force Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi.