Iran Demands Interpol Warrants for 15 Israeli Officials for Gaza Fighting

Iran's judiciary has demanded Interpol issue arrest warrants for 15 Israeli officials, Iranian state television reported Monday, in connection to what Tehran calls "war crimes" committed against Gaza Palestinians during Israel's recent offensive in the coastal strip.

A court set up to investigate Iranian complaints against Israel provided Interpol with a list of Israeli leaders implicated in the 22-day offensive and details on the "charges" against them, the TV quoted Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as saying.

The prosecutor said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were all on the list. Others were top Israeli military officers involved in the Gaza conflict.

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The move is part of Tehran efforts against Israel, which it doesn't recognize. Iran is the main backer of Hamas, the Gaza Strip's militant rulers, but denies it provides weapons to the group.

Interpol denied Monday that it had issued — or been requested to issue — so-called Red Notices "for persons wanted internationally or other requests seeking the arrest of 15 senior Israeli officials on alleged charges of war crimes" linked to the Gaza offensive.

The Lyon, France-based international police organization said it had taken no such action "on behalf of Iran or any of its 187 member countries."

Interpol said the denial was an "unusual step" for the organization because it "does not ordinarily comment on false stories reported in the media."

In Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the Tehran demand as a political stunt.

"This does not even deserve to be dignified with a comment, this is crude propaganda, it is a ridiculous, why don't they investigate Hamas war crimes?" Palmor said.

The Iranian court launched its probe after complaints were filed in Tehran against more than 100 Israelis said to be involved in the conflict.

The official IRNA news agency said the complainants include the Palestinian ambassador to Tehran, Palestinians wounded in the Gaza assault, nongovernment international organizations and thousands of Iranian lawyers and physicians.

The Iranian demand came as an international donors conference to reconstruct Gaza opened in Egypt. Tehran plans to host its own, separate conference in support of Palestinians later this week.

Israel ended its air and ground assault meant to halt rocket fire coming from Gaza and withdrew from the coastal area about six weeks ago with a shaky cease-fire by both sides.

Some 1,300 Palestinians — at least half of them civilians — and 13 Israelis died in the three-week offensive, officials have said.