Norway’s public prosecutors confirmed on Wednesday, April 22, they would study a complaint filed by a group of lawyers accusing Israeli leaders of war crimes against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
"We received the complaint today," Siri Frigaard, chief prosecutor at Norway’s National Authority for Prosecution of Organized and Other Serious Crimes, told Reuters.
"We will follow normal procedure, which means we will look through the complaint to determine whether or not to send it to the police to carry out a formal investigation."
She said a decision was not likely this week.
A group of Norwegian lawyers filed the complaint, using a law under which foreigners can be charged in Norway with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity even if the acts were carried out elsewhere.
More than 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, were killed in the three-week war unleashed by Israel against heavily-populated Gaza in December.
It destroyed nearly 20,000 homes, 48 government offices, 31 police stations and 30 mosques across the impoverished coastal enclave.
Israel has been censured for using artillery shells containing white phosphorous, which can cause severe burns, and for leaving several Gazan residential areas devastated.
The Norwegian lawyers are demanding the arrest and extradition of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, seven military officers, former premier Ehud Olmert and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
They accuse them of "massive terror attacks primarily directed at the population in Gaza."
The lawyers also accuse Israel of illegally using weapons against civilian targets, including attacks on hospitals.
Human Rights Watch criticized Wednesday an internal probe by Israel’s army that claimed there was no evidence of serious misconduct by its troops in Gaza.
"Based on what we have so far, we are very concerned that this is going to be a whitewash," said Bill Van Esveld, a researcher with the New York-based group.
Major-General Dan Harel, Israel’s deputy chief of staff, earlier Wednesday told a news conference his troops "operated under the international law."
He also claimed they failed to find "one incident in which an Israeli soldier intentionally harmed innocent civilians."
A fact-finding mission of Israeli and Palestinian human rights and medical groups recently concluded that Israel perpetrated "terror" in Gaza during the war.
Israeli soldiers who served in the Gaza war have also spoken out about widespread, unwarranted opening of fire on Gaza civilians and the destruction of their property.
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)