Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Israel - Former President Spared Rape Charges

Once again, Israel lives up to it's description as "the most corrupt country in the West". The following is taken from Haaretz:

At least 20,000 protesters, outraged over the plea bargain that spared outgoing president Moshe Katsav rape charges and possible jail time, gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to demand that he stand trial.

Over the past year, Katsav had been accused of a range of sexual offenses, including rape. Under the plea bargain signed Thursday, the rape charges were dropped and a suspended sentence was agreed by the prosecution. The president will plead guilty to sexual harassment, forcible indecent assault and harassing a witness as part of the deal.

The rally was attended by Education Minister Yuli Tamir, MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) and former MK and member of Tel Aviv's municipal council Yael Dayan.

Dayan said that Katsav's plea deal turns the victims into criminals, and paid tribute to the women who went to the police with their accusations against the president.

"We must not incriminate the bravest of women, who deserve a medal for the courage to complain," she said.

"Now there is no law and no justice," Tamir told the rally. "These people [the protesters] came here out of pain, and out of desire to see a just trial in the State of Israel."

Ah, justice is alive and well in Israel. In other Israeli news:

.....prominent Israeli human rights group on Wednesday criticized an Israel Defense Forces probe that decided not to press charges in an errant artillery attack that killed 21 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in November 2006.

The Military Advocate General announced late Tuesday that it was closing the case after its investigation determined the deaths were the result of a "rare and severe" technical malfunction.

In a statement, the human rights group B'Tselem questioned whether the inquiry met proper legal standards: an investigation which is independent, effective, open to review and timely.

The group also called on the IDF to take measures that would prevent similar incidents in the future, and urged it to compensate relatives of the dead.

The shelling was part of a large-scale IDF ground operation in northern Gaza against Palestinian rocket squads, and the civilian deaths provoked the wrath of international groups and human rights organizations. Since then, Israel has rarely used artillery against Gaza.

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the ruling Hamas militant group in Gaza, said the results of the Israeli probe were not surprising.

"This decision is not strange, because every day and every minute dozens of innocent Palestinians are subject to this, either by shelling or by siege or by bullets," he said.

And, from B'Tselem:

Heart patient dies after not being allowed to cross checkpoint

On 14 February 2008, Fawaziyeh a-Dark suffered a heart attack. Soldiers at a flying checkpoint prevented the passage of the ambulance summoned for her. When her husband tried to take her by taxi, soldiers at another checkpoint blocked their passage. He was forced to take her home, by which time she died.