Israel has reportedly agreed to allow entry to an International Criminal Court (ICC) working group – a first since the ICC is considered by Israel’s government and much of its public to have a strong anti-Israel bias and has, until now, been barred from entering.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the trip would likely be limited to public relations and for educating the Israeli public about the ICC and not to gather evidence regarding war crimes connected to the 2014 Gaza war or the settlement enterprise.
AFP quoted an unnamed Israeli official who said the group’s arrival “shortly” will be “unprecedented.” The official said that the visit’s objective was to show the ICC team “how the Israeli judicial system works.”
The official did not discuss the scope of the trip.
AFP reported that the Prime Minister’s Office has declined to comment on the report.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confirmed the group’s visit in a brief statement on Friday which said that her office “is in talks with both Palestinian and Israeli authorities about a potential visit.”
Israel will inform the ICC group that it is probing allegations of wrongdoings during the operation.
The IDF recently released a report clearing IDF forces in several incidents of alleged war crimes committed during the operation.
Israel opposes any ICC investigation because it fears a biased outcome, but Israeli officials have said they are willing to cooperate with the ICC to convince it of Israel’s ability to probe itself.
Israel launched the operation in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire by Palestinian terrorists on Israeli civilian targets from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. During 50 days of fighting, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, and 73 people on the Israeli side were killed, mostly IDF soldiers. About half of the Palestinian dead were combatants, an exemplary ratio in complex urban warfare.
A 2015 UN investigation claimed to have found evidence of war crimes by both sides, saying Israel appeared to have used disproportionate force and endangered civilians. It also criticized Hamas for firing rockets indiscriminately toward civilian areas in Israel.
The ICC at the Hague has launched a preliminary examination of Israel’s conduct during the operation, but issued no conclusions. The court can intervene in cases where a country is deemed incapable of conducting a proper investigation, which is apparently not the case with Israel.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki met Bensouda in The Hague on Friday for “unspecified” talks. A tweet by the ICC showed the two shaking hands.
By: World Israel News Staff