Israel reportedly has been providing information to the ICC, through a third party, related to Operation Protective Edge.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Over the past several months, Israel has been giving information to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, through an unnamed third party, regarding its actions during Operation Protective Edge, Ha’aretz reported Sunday.
The court, through its prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, had opened an investigation of the military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which is a member state of the court, requested the probe soon after the operation ended, alleging that Israel committed war crimes during the 51-day conflict.
Israel is not a member of the ICC and maintains that since the PA is not a state, the court has no jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For the past four years, Israel has resisted dealing with the court’s hunt for information. Now that the preliminary investigation is allegedly coming to an end, having only heard from the Palestinian side, Israel’s political and military echelons have apparently decided to cooperate to an extent.
The Ha’aretz sources stress that at no time did Israel pass on to The Hague raw security data.
Israel has insisted that its actions during the war were legal and in accordance with international law and has received backing from prestigious groups such as the High Level Military Group. These experts in the laws of armed conflict, all retired generals and senior defense officials from Germany, Colombia, India, Spain, Australia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Italy, investigated the campaign for months afterward. In 2015 they reported to the UN that Israel had adopted a far-higher level of restraint when attacking Hamas than any other military in an effort to minimize non-combatant casualties, while blaming Hamas for the vast majority of civilian deaths.
The ICC can try individuals, not states, and has no power to detain people. But members of both the Israeli government and the military could be arrested by member states when traveling abroad.
On the other hand, by applying to the court in an attempt to embarrass or harm Israeli leaders while burnishing its credentials as a state, the PA might be taking a risk of having the mirror turned on them as well.
As noted in the Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations, published by the ICC in December 2017, “all parties are alleged to have committed crimes during the 51-day conflict,” including the constant barrage of rockets that the Palestinians launched against Israel and their placing of innocent civilians directly in the line of fire, using them as human shields.