“And They Call Us War Criminals”: Israel Reacts to ICC Investigation

  • Israel is not a member of the court, and does not recognize its jurisdiction.
  • Israeli media came out with a response to Israel being singled out in the Middle East for criminal offenses.
  • Any ICC decision may result in imprisonment of army generals and Israeli citizens living abroad.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda took a major step Friday announcing an investigation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  The announcement ended five years of preliminary investigations of alleged crimes by both Israelis and Palestinians.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a dark day for truth and justice.”

Fatou Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer and international criminal law prosecutor. She has been the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor since June 2012, after having served as a Deputy Prosecutor in charge of the Prosecutions Division of the ICC since 2004 and having been minister of justice of The Gambia.

Israel is not a member of the court, and does not recognize its jurisdiction. Palestine is a member state and requested the investigation. The court can charge individuals but not a state but places a fear about the top Israeli officials if they will travel abroad.

The International Court of Justice, sometimes called the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  The ICJ’s principal function is to settle international legal disputes submitted by states and give advisory opinions on legal issues referred to it by the UN. The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council for nine years. Fatou Bensouda the chief prosecutor is from Gambia, a country in West Africa.

Besides the comments of Netanyahu, Israeli media came out with a response to Israel being singled out in the Middle East for criminal offenses. On the front page of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper are pictures of atrocities in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Gaza, and elsewhere, and the words, “and they call us war criminals.” Whatever offenses Israel has committed is nothing compared to the following:

  • Syria has slaughtered innocent citizens, and even has used chemical weapons against them.
  • Iran has suppressed demonstrations in their country with brutal techniques, even firing live ammunition at them.
  • Turkey has committed international crimes in their handling of the Kurds in Northern Syria
  • Hezbollah has interfered with democracy in Lebanon, and uses force to control these demonstrations to prevent a new government from being formed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
  • Hamas has fired thousands of rockets without discrimination at Israeli populations, and has used its civilians as human shields to prevent Israel from striking directly at these firing points. 
In major reversals of American foreign policy, President Trump has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and stated that Israeli settlements do not violate international law.

Instead of the International Criminal Court making a fair general investigation of all sides in the disputes in the Middle East, they have singled out Israel as an offender. Israel allows the Palestinians autonomy in their neighborhoods, according to the Oslo Accords, and even allows them to govern over these areas with armed policemen. The ICC have instead pointed the finger only at “the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

The next step in the investigation is appointing judges to receive and take action on complaints sent to them by Palestinians, which may result in imprisonment of army generals and Israeli citizens living abroad. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, in reaction to the decision in The Hague, retorted that “there is no place for the International Court to interfere in Israel security matters.”

This is the reaction of all members of the Knesset. Meanwhile, President Trump and the United States have already given support for Israel’s presence in the territories.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites. www.progressivejewishspirituality.net
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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