Saturday, December 21, 2019

ICC Will Move Forward With 'Investigation' Of Israel's Actions In Gaza, West Bank

Israel fears ICC could issue global arrest warrants for top officials

Israel fears the International Criminal Court’s decision to move forward with a potential investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories by Israel will open up current and former government officials and military personnel to prosecution on the global stage, according to a report Saturday.
With Israel planning to refuse to cooperate with a potential investigation by the ICC, officials fear top officers of the Israel Defense Forces, as well as low-ranking soldiers, could face international arrest warrants, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.
The prime minister, defense ministers, IDF chiefs and the heads of the Shin Bet security service over the past five years could all face the danger of prosecution.

The ICC deals with the prosecution of individuals for alleged crimes, rather than states.
Regarding the question of whether Israel will cooperate with the ICC’s pre-trial chamber in the coming 120 days, an official in the PMO said: “A decision will be reached after the legal teams make their recommendations.”
Meanwhile diplomatic sources told Channel 12: “There will be no cooperation with the court… certainly not if it will eventually be decided to open an [official] probe.”
Private Israeli organizations could potentially defend those prosecuted but the Israeli government would not work with a probe in any formal capacity, they said.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit of Saturday evening called ICC top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to move forward with an investigation as “unreasonable” and “rash.”

He said Israel “is a democratic state of law, obligated and committed to respecting international law and humanitarian values. This commitment has stood strong for decades, through all the challenged and tough times Israel has faced. It is rooted in the character and values of the State of Israel and guaranteed by a strong and independent justice system…there is no place for international judicial intervention in such a situation.”

The probe will apparently cover Israel’s policy of settling its citizens in the West Bank, its actions during the 2014 war in Gaza, and its response to the Palestinian protests on the Strip’s border held since March of last year. It will also look at Hamas’s targeting of Israeli civilians during the 2014 war and its use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

Bensouda has now referred the matter of the probe to the Hague-based tribunal to rule on the specific territory over which it has jurisdiction, as Israel is not a member of the court

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