Urgent Report – The ICC intends to open War Crimes Investigations into Israel and the IDF
In 2015, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced it was signing onto the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), effectively declaring itself a State Party member. Shortly after, the Palestinians submitted a State Party referral against Israel to the ICC Prosecutor. The PA requested a retroactive investigation into Israel regarding the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) activity since the 2014 military operation “Protective Edge.” They deliberately chose the day after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian terrorists as the date for the PA’s purported acceptance of ICC jurisdiction.
The ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, agreed to a preliminary examination into what she referred to as “the situation in Palestine.” The stated purpose of this examination was to determine if a reasonable basis existed to initiate a formal investigation.
In December 2019, the Prosecutor announced that she has concluded her preliminary examination and there is basis to proceed into a full criminal investigation, subject only to a the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber ruling, confirming her argument that “Palestine” is a “state” and that its territory – where she will be conducting her investigations – consists all pre 1967 areas, including the holly city of Jerusalem and the holly places.
The ICC’s primary focus of the intended investigation will be IDF’s actions in operation ‘Protective Edge’, the use of live fire on the Gaza border during the recent Palestinian rioting, which Hamas refers to as “The March of Return,” and the issue of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. While publicly proclaiming that she intends to investigate Hamas as well as Israel, seeking to portray an even-handed approach, the Prosecutor has chosen to focus only on Gaza-based terror groups. As such, the ICC investigation has completely given the PA and its officials a free pass.
WHY IT MATTERS
A deep shadow of concern lies over the intended ICC investigation against Israel, as reflected in the biased treatment of Israel so far: The decision to investigate the democratic Jewish State, while ignoring the serious atrocities occurring around the world, including in the Middle East; the inherently political circumstances of the Palestinian referral; the acknowledgment of Palestinian “Statehood” in contrary to International Law criteria; the systematic overlooking of compelling evidence against Palestinian officials, and previous rulings by the ICC against Israel in the case of the “Gaza Flotilla”, which blamed Israel for war crimes, in contrary to the UN Palmer report and the Turkel Report – all indicate the deeply prejudiced nature of such an investigation.
Thus, the pending ICC investigation poses an imminent threat to Israel, the IDF and its troops. Government officials, soldiers, veterans and ordinary citizens may face arrests and extraditions in over 110 countries around the World. Due to the bias against Israel, there is a danger of Israelis being wrongfully tried, convicted, and imprisoned for war crimes, which they have not committed.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, along with countless other anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist groups, are gaining momentum. The ICC investigation of Israel and the blood libels against the IDF serve to strengthen their campaigns internationally and provide the haters and their accusations with legitimacy. It bolsters the efforts to isolate Israel and cast it as a pariah state. Moreover, it encourages the Palestinians to continue with their terrorist operations, the glorification of violence, claims of victimhood and oppression of their own civilian population.
But furthermore: a Palestinian success to turn the tables, and instead of being themselves prosecuted for war crimes, bring a law abiding democratic state under investigation, will encourage terrorist groups around the world to further administer unlawful methods of war, endangering civilians on all sides in even more sinister ways.
The events unfolding in The Hague are not to be understated. Giving Palestinian extremists immunity and labeling Israel a war criminal, while ignoring the PA’s War Crimes and Human rights violations, facilitates terror and condones future attacks against Israelis and other democracies.
WHAT SHURAT HADIN IS DOING
While the state of Israel, which is not a member state in the Rome Statute, refrains from formally taking part in the ICC proceedings in order not to grant legitimacy to the proceedings against it or undermine its legal position as to the court’s lack of jurisdiction, the floor is left open.
Shurat HaDin was the first to identify the PA’s requested investigation as a calculated strategy to politically manipulate the ICC to their advantage and face it. Their goal is to de-legitimize and impose political pressure on the state of Israel, to hamstring the IDF and to restrain its ability to defend Israel. From a legal perspective, we reject the PA’s membership status in the ICC as illegitimate, as the PA does not qualify as a “state” under International Law criteria. The only basis for any ICC jurisdiction in the conflict arises solely upon individual Palestinian leaders with Jordanian citizenship, as Jordan is a legitimate State Party to the ICC. We have demanded that The Hague investigate them for their crimes on this basis.
Thus, Shurat HaDin has documented and filed formal communications in the ICC alleging war crimes and Crimes Against Humanity committed by the PA, Hamas, and individual Palestinian leaders against their civilian population and Israelis. These have included, among others, the indiscriminate rocket attacks against population centers, Murder of innocent civilians, the use of children as human shields, and persistent arson attacks on Israel’s agricultural fields.
Shurat HaDin also provided detailed accounts of the PA’s longstanding “Pay for Slay” policy, by which it provides stipends and salaries to convicted terrorists according to the brutality of their crimes and length of their sentences. Our pleadings exposed the PA, Hamas and their terrorist leaders as the real war criminals. We laid bare for the entire world to see the enormous differences between the intentionally murderous actions of Palestinian terrorists and the very dangerous security predicaments they impose on Israel’s soldiers.
To reveal the ICC’s biased interest in the Israeli settlements in the west bank, we have filed a complaint, together with a European Parliament Member and a Cyprian civil rights organization, against the Turkish mass settlements of occupied Northern Cyprus. Even though Cyprus has been an undisputed member state of the ICC since 2002, the issue of transfer of Turkish population into these areas has never even got to the ‘preliminary examination’ barrier, needless to say – passed it.
As the ICC prosecutor has recently requested the Pre-Trial Chamber to rule on the issue Palestinian “statehood” and territory, arguing that all pre 1967 areas, including Jerusalem, are now part of the “state of Palestine”, we have filed two submissions (“observations”) to the Pre-Trial Chamber, confronting the Prosecutor biased factual presentation of the conflict and undermining the shaky legal basis of her request. We represented Palestinian terror victims who cried against the fact, according to which Prosecutor’s request simply ignored the existence, and needless to say – the impact, of Palestinian terror on the situation, blaming solely Israel for the Palestinian lack of achieving the legal criteria for statehood. We have also brought the stories of residents of the Jewish quarter in the old city of Jerusalem and Kibbutz Kfar Etzion – communities violently displaced in 1948 returning after 1967, now in danger of being considered criminals for living in their homes, to demonstrate the complexity of the conflict – which the ICC is fundamentally ill-suited to rule on – and the potential outcomes for the ruling on the fate of these displaced communities.
Shurat HaDin is further partnering with Israel’s supporters, attorneys, and jurists worldwide to further fight the ICC threat. We seek to put an end to this threat, but if we do not succeed – due to the Court’s bias – Shurat HaDin’s compilation of evidence, generation of publicity and sponsorship of claims by terror victims will demand that the ICC ceases to ignore the PA’s and Hamas’s own crimes, thus making the Palestinian move in the ICC to turn against them. We dare not be silent in the face of the blood libels being charged against Israeli officials and IDF soldiers.
WHY SHURAT HADIN: OUR MISSION AND GOALS
Shurat HaDin — Israel Law Center is an Israeli non-governmental organization dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, defending victims of terror, and protecting the State of Israel and its citizens.
Since its establishment in 2003, Shurat HaDin has become a world leader in this legal battle, utilizing court systems worldwide to put terrorism and its supporters on trial. As terror tactics have evolved, so too has Shurat HaDin developed new strategies to battle BDS, lawfare, and the egregious use of social media for promoting terror and inciting violence against the Jewish people.
Shurat HaDin continues to represent hundreds of terror victims, working closely with Western intelligence agencies, law enforcement branches, and a global network of lawyers to go on the legal offensive against Israel’s enemies.
With $3 billion in favorable court judgments for the victims, hundreds of millions of terror-dollars frozen and collected and countless efforts to illegally boycott the Jewish State thwarted, the Shurat HaDin model has proven itself an effective means of blocking terrorist financing and going on the legal offense against those who incite violence and target Jews.