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Spanish court issues arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli foreign ministry dismisses warrants as 'provocation'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at PM's office in Jerusalem (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could face arrest in Spain for the killing of activists on the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010.

Netanyahu and seven other former and current government officials in Israel were issued with an arrest warrant by Spanish national court judge Jose de la Mata, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.

The list includes former defence minister Ehud Barak, former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, former minister of strategic affairs Moshe Yaalon, former interior minister Eli Yishai, minister without portfolio Benny Begin and vice admiral in charge of the operation against the Mavi Marmara, Maron Eliezer.

The case concerns the killing of 10 Turkish activists on board the flotilla ship, after it attempted to break the Israeli-imposed siege of Gaza.

Israeli army soldiers killed the activists after they stormed the ship in international waters. Some activists were reported to have resisted the armed Israeli naval commandos with home-made weapons, according to the UN report into the incident, which caused a diplomatic stand-off between Israel and Turkey.

The Israeli foreign ministry condemned the judge's move as a "provocation."

"We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it cancelled," a spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post.

"We hope it will be over soon.”

Little information has been given on whether the case was an individual judge acting on his own, or how much weight the warrant will have with Spanish law enforcement or Interpol.

Similar arrest warrants have been stalled in countries that are friendly or neutral toward Israel.

Spain previously investigated Israel's bombing of Hamas military wing leader Salah Shehadeh in Gaza City in July 2002, with courts examining the deaths of 15 civilians and the injuring of 150 that resulted from the attack.

However, in 2009 Spain's top court decided that the decision to kill Shehadeh had not been disproportionate.

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