by MONITOR
The case of the failure of British police to arrest the Israeli general Doron Almog when he was on an El Al plane at Heathrow Airport is a puzzling one. A British court had issued an arrest warrant for Major General Almog for an alleged war crime under the Geneva Convention of ordering the demolition of 59 civilian Palestinian homes in 2002. British lawyers acting for Palestinian victims had obtained the war crimes arrest warrant from a senior district judge. The police were at Heathrow airport when the El Al flight carrying General Almog landed; he was due to visit Jewish communities in Manchester and the West Midlands but he did not leave the plane, probably because he had been told by an unknown source of the arrest warrant. The police decided not to try to board the El Al plane, partly because they were not sure they had the right to do so, and partly on the grounds that to try to arrest General Almog might provoke an incident in which firearms were used; all El Al planes have armed marshals on board. After two hours on the tarmac at Heathrow the El Al plane took off with General Almog still on board. Legal experts say there is no doubt that British police have the right to board any plane at a UK airport, with or without permission from the pilot, if they have to execute a warrant for arrest.