International Criminal Court prepares to investigate Israel for war crimes

The Israeli prime minister accused the International Criminal Court of serving as “a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel” and “completely ignor[ing] legal arguments.”

By JNS

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor announced on Friday that a “basis” exists to probe whether Israel committed crimes during the 2014 war with Gaza, known in Israel as “Operation Protective Edge,” when Hamas launched rockets into the Jewish state and Israel responded defensively.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” said Fatou Bensouda. “There is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed in the context of the 2014 hostilities in Gaza.”

While Israel is not a member of the ICC, nor does it recognize the the court’s jurisdiction, the Palestinians are members. The latter requested the investigation five years ago.

“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza,” said Bensouda.

Israeli leadership blasted the announcement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the International Criminal Court had been transformed into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel. “The prosecutor has completely ignored the legal arguments we presented to her.”

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in a legal opinion, “By approaching the ICC, the Palestinians are seeking to breach the framework agreed to by the parties and to push the court to determine political issues that should be resolved by negotiations and not by criminal proceedings.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said “the prosecutor’s decision in the International Criminal Court reflects the anti-Israeli tendency rooted in The Hague; the institution is becoming nothing more than another partisan political tool to wield against the Jewish state.”

He continued, “This decision exposes the ICC’s desire to follow political considerations, not legal ones; Israel has legal and historical rights in the Land of Israel, which no court can change. This only serves to reward the Palestinian campaign to curry international favor instead of negotiating directly with Israel. It will not advance the cause of peace, but instead undermines the very institutions that are designed to promote international peace and security.”

“Clearly, Bensouda cannot tell the difference between war crimes and Palestinian propaganda,” said B’nai B’rith in a statement. “It is the Palestinians who have for decades subjected Israel to the high crimes of unrelenting, indiscriminate terrorism . . . and an open campaign of national extermination. By contrast, despite singularly difficult circumstances, Israel, the Middle East’s only actual democracy, has carried out its pursuit of security with a degree of restraint and care rarely if ever seen in the history of military conflict.”