An Israel Defense Forces general escaped arrest for alleged war crimes at London's Heathrow airport in 2005 because U.K. police feared an arrest would spark a shootout with Israeli security officials, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Major General (res.) Doron Almog, planning to visit Jewish communities in the U.K., refused to deplane for two hours, after receiving a warning from the Israeli embassy of the imminent arrest. He then returned to Israel.

Palestinian groups had pressed U.K. authorities to arrest Almog over his alleged role in the destruction of more than 50 homes in the Gaza Strip in 2002, prompting a British judge to issue an arrest warrant.

Almog commanded the IDF southern command between 2000 and 2003.

Police waiting to arrest the Israeli general on the ground did not board the plane due to concerns that a clash with Israeli air marshals or armed personal security would erupt on board.

The arrest warrant against Almog was issued by a judge at the request of "Hickman and Rose" law office, representing the Palestinian group. The judge issued the warrant based on suspicion that Almog had violated the Geneva accords, which in Britain constitutes a crime.

The judge decided to issue a warrant based on one such violation - the destruction of a home in Rafah - in order to allow the police to question Almog over three other incidents: the killing of a nine-month pregnant woman in March 2003; the firing of a "Flechette" antipersonnel shells at three Gaza youths and killing them in December 2001; and dropping a missile on a house in Gaza in July 2002, killing a senior Hamas man along with 14 Palestinian civilians.

When Major General Almog returned to Israel, the British foreign secretary issued an apology for the incident. Hickman and Rose demanded an investigation.