Israel vows to shield IDF soldiers from ‘fake war crimes’

Netanyahu, Gantz, IDF all slam International Criminal Court for ruling that it has jurisdiction to prosecute Israeli military personnel.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s political and military leadership on Saturday slammed the International Criminal Court decision for saying it had jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories and could move to prosecute IDF soldiers and officers for war crimes.

“When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes – this is pure anti-Semitism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “The court established to prevent atrocities like the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people is now targeting the one state of the Jewish people.”

“As Prime Minister of Israel, I can assure you this: We will fight this perversion of justice with all our might!”

The IDF released a statement saying it regrets the ICC decision, in part because “this is a biased and prejudiced decision which steps beyond the ICC’s jurisdiction.”

“The IDF has determinedly defended, and will continue to defend, the security of Israel and its citizens, in the face of every threat, while adhering fully to the IDF Code of Ethics, the values of the IDF, and national and international law,” the statement read. “The IDF fully supports and will continue to support its soldiers in active and reserve service, who courageously and devotedly act to safeguard and protect the State of Israel and its citizens.”

The ICC was established by the UN in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, but because of its perceived use as a lawfare weapon by anti-American and anti-Israel groups, neither the U.S. nor Israel are signatories to the Rome Statute that established the court. Only recognized states that are signatories to the statute are members of the court and subject to its jurisdiction, but on Friday the judges ruled that despite Israel not being a member and the Palestinians not being a state, it nonetheless ruled that the ICC considers the Palestinians “a State party.”

One of the judges, Péter Kovács of Hungary, dissented, saying that under law the court did not have jurisdiction.

“I am convinced that without the cooperation of the directly interested States in the present and truly complicated, over-politicized situation, the Prosecutor will have no real chance of preparing a trial-ready case or cases,” Kovács in his detailed 163-page dissent.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, himself a former IDF commander, slammed what he called the politically motivated court decision.

“The poor ruling by the ICC lacks any basis in international law and exposes the actual motivation for the proceedings: the political exploitation of international institutions to serve Israel’s detractors and critics,” Gantz tweeted.

“Israel has its own independent justice system and highly effective mechanisms for inquiry and investigation, when necessary. The IDF & Israel’s defense establishment will continue to protect our country & our people, while upholding our moral standards and international law,” he added.

In Washington, where both Republican and Democratic administrations have looked with disdain on the ICC’s political agenda in its attempts to prosecute American military personnel, the State Department said it was reviewing the ICC decision.

“We have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “We have always taken the position that the court’s jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it or that are referred by the UN Security Council.”

Last year, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the ICC for its bias based on politics, not law.

“Given Israel’s robust civilian and military legal system and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it’s clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political purposes. It’s a mockery of justice,” Pompeo said.

“They’re a trusted and wonderful partner and a buttress of American security. If a rogue court can intimidate our friend or any other ally into abrogating its right to self-defense, that puts Americans at risk as well,” Pompeo noted.