Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top government officials could be detained if they step foot in Spain after a judge there issued an arrest warrant stemming from a deadly 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, but Israel is dismissing the move as a “provocation.”
In the 2010 incident, a group of human rights activists -- which included members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to authorities – boarded several aid ships to try and break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Israel’s navy was able to stop several of the ships without incident, but its commandos were attacked when boarding the Mavi Marmara, leaving 10 activists dead in an ensuing gun battle.
Three Spanish nationals who were onboard the ship then sued Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials, who at the time made key security decisions for Israel.
Among the officials are former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman; Moshe Ya’alon and Ehud Barak, the former defense ministers; former Interior Minister Eli Yishai; former Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, and Bennie Begin, minister-without-portfolio, The Times of Israel reports.
A judge in Spain’s National Court in 2010 determined that the country no longer has the authority to file lawsuits in international incidents and referred the case to the International Criminal Court, which dismissed it.
But Judge Jose de la Mata found a loophole Friday that would allow Spanish authorities to re-open their investigation of the raid if any of the officials enter Spain, Ynetnews reported.
“It’s a provocation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel Tuesday. “The Israeli Embassy in Madrid is in touch with Spanish General Prosecutor in order to close the file as promptly as possible. We hope that this will be over soon.”
If the seven officials enter Spain, a judge could question and detain them for their alleged role in the incident. But Netanyahu could be exempt if the Spanish government determines he has diplomatic immunity, Ynetnews reports.