Iran sets up court to try Israelis over Gaza

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has set up a court to try Israelis for its air attacks on Gaza and is ready to try in absentia any people who Tehran says have committed crimes, a judiciary official said on Tuesday.

A group of Iranian students also broke into a British embassy residential compound to protest London’s perceived bias toward Israel, an Iranian news agency reported.

Iran, which does not recognize Israel, has criticized some Arab states and Western countries for not doing enough to stop military action by the Jewish state.

Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has urged Muslims to defend Palestinians whatever way they can.

“The court is in a special branch in Tehran and entrusted with the task of dealing with the executors, planners and officials of this (Israeli) regime who have committed crimes,” judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said.

He said the court was set up based on a 1948 U.N. convention on the prevention of genocide to which Iran is a signatory.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Tuesday accused Israel of committing “genocide against humanity” in Gaza. He was speaking in a meeting with foreign envoys in Tehran that was broadcast and translated by Iran’s English-language Press TV.

Jamshidi called on all Palestinians who have been affected by the Israeli operation in Gaza to file complaints. The Israeli officials could be tried in absentia, he added.

Israel, which accuses Iran of supplying Hamas Islamists with weapons, said the strikes which began on Saturday were in response to almost daily rocket and mortar fire from the Hamas- ruled Gaza Strip.

Jamshidi said Iran’s judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, was sending letters to his counterparts in all Islamic states seeking their cooperation with this court.

Fars News Agency said a group of 50 students on Tuesday evening broke into a compound where British diplomats live in north Tehran to protest the Gaza attacks. Britain, a former imperial power, is often a focus for protest over such issues.

It said the students planted a Palestinian flag on the compound, called Golhak garden, and were “confronted” by security forces who fired shots in the air. Fars said several students were injured without giving further details.

British diplomats could not be reached for comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, two petrol bombs were thrown into the compound of the Jordanian embassy in Tehran, which a Jordanian official said was probably a reaction to events in Gaza. The official said there were no injuries and little damage.

A similar attack against the Egyptian mission, which borders Gaza, took place earlier this month when a petrol bomb was thrown at the mission’s fence.

Egypt and Jordan have peace deals with Israel.

Writing by Hashem Kalantari and Edmund Blair; Editing by Jon Boyle