West Midlands Jews have spoken of their shock at Scotland Yard's attempted capture of a retired Israeli soldier invited to speak to their community on charity work.

Former major general Doron Almog was tipped off while he was on a flight from Israel to Heathrow on Sunday night that British detectives would arrest him for alleged war crimes if he stepped on to British soil.

He was advised not to leave the El Al plane and abandoned plans to give a talk at Solihull Synagogue that night, disappointing about 60 people who had gathered to hear him.

The retired senior Israeli Army officer flew immediately back to Israel.

Scotland Yard detectives were armed with a warrant issued by a British judge which named Mr Almog as a war crimes suspect for offences that breached the Geneva Conventions.

Ruth Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the West Midlands Jewish community, spoke of the consternation caused by his absence.

She said: "It came as quite a shock for those who went to Solihull Synagogue to hear Mr Almog was not coming and the reasons why he was not turning up. It seems very disappointing that now that the disengagement has already happened and all Jewish presence from Gaza has been withdrawn, we are still feeling an unwillingness to move forward and discuss problems."

Mr Almog would have spoken about a project in the Negev to help Israeli Jews and Arabs who have severe mental and physical disabilities.

It would have been his first visit to the West Midlands.

His arrest warrant for war crimes, which was issued on Saturday at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in central London, is believed to have been the first of its kind in Britain against an Israeli national over conduct in the conflict with Palestinians.

The warrant alleges Mr Almog committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip in 2002 when he ordered the destruction of 59 homes near Rafah.

The warrant was issued by senior district judge Timothy Workman after an application by lawyers acting for Mr Almog's alleged Palestinian victims.

Mr Almog was commanding officer of the Israeli Defence Forces' Southern Command between December 2000 and July 2003.