Iran seeks arrest of 15 Israeli "war criminals"

TEHRAN Sun Mar 1, 2009 7:38pm GMT

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has asked Interpol to arrest what it says are 15 Israeli "war criminals" who were involved in the conflict in Gaza in December and January, the Tehran prosecutor said in remarks reported on Sunday.

Iran, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, said in December it had set up a court to try Israelis for attacking Gaza. It had said at the time it was ready to try those it accused in absentia.

"In the current week, we have completed our investigation (of) about 15 individuals who were among those criminals," Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said.

"Based on our investigation and according to article two of the Interpol charter, we asked Interpol to arrest these suspects," he said in comments carried by Iranian state television, according to the BBC's monitoring service.

Mortazavi said Iran had drawn up charges against 34 Israeli commanders and 115 individuals, adding that the charges included "war crimes, invasion, occupation, genocide and crimes against humanity," the television reported.

Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza, which it said aimed to suppress Palestinian cross-border rocket fire, killed more than 1,300 Palestinians. Thirteen Israelis were killed.

Iranian officials have said Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, scored a victory over Israel by surviving the Israeli attacks.

Israeli and U.S. officials have accused Iran of providing weapons and training to Hamas militants in Gaza. Iran insists it only gives moral, financial and political support to Hamas and the Palestinians.

Israel has promised its military personnel state protection from foreign prosecution.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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