The Hawks have turned down a request to obtain an arrest warrant for Israel’s former foreign minister Tzipi Livni as there was not enough evidence to do so.
“After much deliberation, the office of General Anwar Dramat has decided to turn down the request by the two organisations. There are insufficient grounds for us to obtain a warrant of arrest,” said Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela on Wednesday.
“We have concluded that it would be highly irresponsible for us to obtain a warrant of arrest without following the letter of the law.”
He said by law, the Hawks had jurisdiction to obtain an arrest warrant as requested by the Media Review Network (MRN) and the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA).
However, the law required that Livni be in the country for the Hawks to begin an investigation into allegations of war crimes against her.
Livni was due in the country this week on invitation from the SA Jewish Board of Deputies. Her trip was postponed on Wednesday.
The MRN and PSA wanted her arrested and prosecuted for the role she played in the 2008/2009 Gaza war.
After the war, the MRN and the PSA compiled a dossier, about 3 000-pages long, and submitted it to the National Prosecuting Authority. Livni was cited in the dossier as one of the “key architects” of the onslaught on Gaza’s civilian population.
Polela said the evidence supplied, however, was not enough to proceed with an investigation.
“It contains lots of assumptions and not much in the way of facts.”
Describing the case as “highly complex”, Polela said the investigation would require the Hawks to obtain Israeli cabinet records to clearly establish Livni’s role in the Gaza war.
On Wednesday, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) announced that Livni had postponed her South African visit due to a labour strike in Israel.
Communications head Charisse Zeifert said Livni’s trip would be rescheduled for later this year.
“Livni was due to arrive in South Africa this week for a series of meetings and public addresses in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“The South African Jewish leadership invited Livni and arranged her itinerary.”
‘Nothing to do with threats’
Zev Krengel, SAJBD chairperson, stressed that the postponement “had nothing whatsoever to do with threats by local anti-Israel activists” to call for Livni’s arrest on her arrival in South Africa.
“Rather it was entirely due to technical administrative obstacles caused by Israel’s state employees union strike that prevented the necessary arrangements from being made,” Krengel said.
“A number of other scheduled diplomatic visits to and from Israel have also been postponed as a result of the strike, including that of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) claimed that the visit was stalled due to the calls for Livni’s arrest.
“While the South African Zionist Federation claims [the postponement] is due to travel issues, it is also as a result of the mounting pressure from pro-human rights activists calling for her arrest,” Samwu spokesperson Tahir Sema said in a statement.
“As the coalition for a Free Palestine we will do all that it takes to ensure that those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations do not set foot in our country, regardless of whether the perpetrator is from Israel or Swaziland.” — Sapa