Israel has launched a media campaign against the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague and its prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in its continued condemnation of a probe into alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the ICC's decision to launch the probe was "absurd" and "preposterous." He said the “ultimate folly” of the decision was that the democracy of Israel was being targeted while “the terrorist war criminals of Hamas are the ones who are going to be pressing the charges.”
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court launched a preliminary probe on Friday probe that will examine whether Israel and/or Palestine committed war crimes during last summer’s war in Gaza. It’s a move that has been criticized both by Israeli and American officials.
Netanyahu has met with security officials and legal experts in order to find ways to discredit the legitimacy of the international tribunal.
He argues that because the Palestinian Authority is not a state, it is technically unable to file a case against Israel at the ICC, a source close to Netanyahu who spoke to the press on the condition of anonymity told Israeli i24 news.
Speaking at the start of Sunday morning’s cabinet meeting he said: “The decision by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to begin an inquiry against the State of Israel is the height of hypocrisy and the opposite of justice.”
“I have already encountered such phenomena during my years of public service representing the State of Israel both as ambassador to the U.N. and as prime minister, but this decision by the prosecutor is in a category of its own. It gives legitimacy to international terrorism.”
“We will fight it in every way possible and we will also recruit others to fight this absurdity, and they are already being recruited. We will not allow [Israeli] soldiers to face international tribunals.”
Last summer’s war saw 2,200 Palestinians killed including 577 children, with thousands more wounded and displaced in the Israeli offensive. Seventy-one Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed in the conflict.
The media campaign comes despite recommendations by the Foreign Ministry to disregard the probe but not engage in direct attacks against the court.
In a statement, Netanyahu said: “The court was founded to prevent a repeat of history’s worst crimes, foremost among them the genocide of 6 million Jews … Now the Palestinians are cynically manipulating the ICC to deny the Jewish state the right to defend itself against the very war crimes and the very terror that the court was established to prevent.”
The ICC has opened a number of investigations since its inception in 2002, including in a number of African nations including Libya - as well as further afield in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria and Ukraine.
So far just four investigations have been concluded, which suggest that the probe into Israel could take several years.
(With AP and Reuters)