JERUSALEM, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A British court rejected a request by Palestinian families to serve visiting Israeli defense minister with an arrest warrant, Israel television said.
The Westminster Magistrates Court rejected a petition filed on behalf of the Palestinian families demanding that Ehud Barak be arrested and charged with war crimes, Channel One reported Tuesday evening.
The television report said Barak refused to cancel his trip to London despite being advised to do so.
The court judge ruled that under international law Barak has diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted, Ynetnews.com, an Israeli news Web site, said.
Plans by Palestinian families to try to have Barak arrested were first reported in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph Tuesday, after they heard of the Israeli defense minister's plans to speak at the Labor Party conference in Brighton.
The Telegraph said the families represented by solicitor Irvine Thanvi Nataz, accused Barak of alleged war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military offensive in Gaza earlier this year.
The Israeli army said 13 Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed in the offensive and 1,166 Palestinians died.
The effort to arrest Barak came two weeks after a special United Nations investigation accused Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip. The report was presented to the United Nations human rights council, the Maariv newspaper said Tuesday.