Ambushed in London 10Nov09 November 11, 2009
by Aryeh Egozi and Zvi SingerÂ -Â Yedioth Ahronoth (p13)Â -Â 10 November 2009
One of the first visits that the new CEO of El Al is to make in the framework of his new job is expected to be to London. But Israeli officials are afraid that the moment the CEO, Eliezer Shkedi, the former commander of the IAF, sets foot in Heathrow Airport, he will be arrested on charges of war crimes.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Shkedi, who recently assumed the post of CEO at El Al, is going to have to leave for the UK shortly in order to learn from up close about his companyâs operations there. However, El Al executives were given tips in the past number of days that Palestinians and left wing activists in the UK were drafting an arrest warrant against Shkedi, charging that during his term as the commander of the Israel Air Force in the years 2004-2008 he committed âwar crimesâ against the residents of Gaza. In light of that development, it seems that the new CEO of El Al is going to refrain from traveling to the UK.
A highly-placed source in El Al told Yedioth Ahronoth last night: âThis issue was examined in its general context and as a matter of principle, but no trip has yet been scheduled and, as such, there was no need to make a decision on the issue.â
The Foreign Ministry refused to comment.
This is not the first time that a high-ranking IDF officer in reserves has faced the danger of arrest in the UK. In September 2005 Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog arrived in London to take part in a fundraiser for autism. Half an hour before landing the ambassador to the UK at the time, Zvi Hefetz, informed Almog by means of the crew on board the plane that British police officers were waiting for him at Heathrow in order to arrest him, and that he was advised not to disembark from the plane. A Muslim organization in England had filed a suit against Almog for âwar crimesâ that he allegedly committed in his capacity as the OC Southern Command, including the demolition of 50 houses in Rafah. Almog complied with the ambassadorâs recommendations and returned to Israel without alighting from the aircraft.