International Criminal Court may investigate Israeli officials

Israeli lawmakers were warned that the ICC may open an investigation on alleged IDF war crimes and construction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

By Margot Dudkevitch

Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) has warned lawmakers in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is expected to launch an investigation into Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli military offensive against Hamas terrorists in Gaza in the summer of 2014, as well as construction of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

“Since the beginning of 2014, Gaza terrorists have fired more than 450 rockets at innocent Israeli civilians,” an IDF spokesperson said when the Operation was launched. “Rocket fire endangers more than 3.5 million people – about 40 percent of Israel’s population. The threat facing Israel is intolerable, and the IDF is determined to stop it.”

A report by Israel’s Channel 10 noted that at the request of the Palestinian Authority, the international court has already conducted preliminary probes of the two issues. NSC officials expressed concern that Israeli officials could be summoned to appear before the court for alleged war crimes.

In late 2017, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda published a report listing preliminary examinations of Palestinian claims against Israel. The report dealt with construction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as the Israeli offensive in Gaza in response to the continuous rocket fire. Bensouda, who took Israel to task over construction in Judea and Samaria, said her office had chosen to focus on incidents concerning the 2014 war, which she said appear to be the most grave in terms of the alleged harm to civilians.

The NSC also warned lawmakers that the absence of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians may see an increase in global efforts to delegitimize Israel and an increase in calls to boycott the Jewish state.

In 2015 the Palestinian Authority became a member state of the ICC, allowing it to open a new front in its self-declared diplomatic war against Israel.