The International Criminal Court in the Hague announced this week that they have decided to open an investigation into the alleged war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip as well as Judea and Samaria. Even though the court stated that the investigation would be carried out “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor” it is clear that this is simply another anti-semitic attack on the Jewish nation from the international community.
The ICC’s founding treaty, called the Rome Statute, gives it the jurisdiction to address the following four crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
According to the ICC’s website, war crimes is defined as the following:
Third, war crimes which are grave breaches of the Geneva conventions in the context of armed conflict and include, for instance, the use of child soldiers; the killing or torture of persons such as civilians or prisoners of war; intentionally directing attacks against hospitals, historic monuments, or buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes.
Ironically, Hamas welcomed the decision by the International Criminal Court, even though they are directly implicated in the crimes that the court is investigating.
According to the ICC’s own definition of war crime, Hamas is already guilty. They have used hospitals and schools in Gaza to launch rockets against Israel. Many times, Israel has been unable to defend themselves due to fear of injuring or killing innocent civilians.
You might be wondering – is the International Criminal Court legally able to bring Israelis or Palestinians to trial?
When a state becomes party to the Rome Statute, it agrees to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC with respect to the crimes enumerated in the statute. Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute. Neither is the United States. Even though “Palestine” is not a state, the ICC granted them membership status due to the Palestinian Authority joining the United Nations as a non-member state in 2012. It’s very possible that the PA’s main motive in joining the UN was so that they could refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for investigation.
Another question is regarding the Oslo Accords. Israel is solely responsible for handling crimes in the West Bank and Gaza under the 1993 Oslo Accords, accords which the Palestinians voluntarily committed to. Due to this fact, it is sketchy at best on whether the International Criminal Court can legally launch an investigation into Israel or the Palestinians.
Due to the ICC’s disproportionate interest in trying Israel and the United States for war crimes, President Trump signed an executive order during his time in office, sanctioning the ICC’s chief prosecutor, and forbidding all US companies and persons from doing business with her. Thankfully, the Biden Administration is so far upholding that executive order.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said this week that the Biden administration opposes and is disappointed with the decision by the International Criminal Court to pursue an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Price told reporters the ICC has “no jurisdiction over this matter,” which he said “unfairly” targets Israel.
“Israel is not a party to the ICC, and it has not consented to the court’s jurisdiction and we have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel,” Price said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the decision and called it “absurd”, adding, “It’s undiluted anti-semitism and the height of hypocrisy.”
Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett responded to the ICC decision and called it a “farce.”
“The ICC is an anti-semitic organization that is trying to tie Israel’s hands from defending itself,” he said.
If the ICC were successful in its quest to find Israel guilty of war crimes, then activity in Judea and Samaria could be considered illegal (at least in international circles). Israeli politicians and soldiers could also be arrested when traveling in other countries if they were found guilty of war crimes.
Since current Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was the IDF Chief of Staff during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, he could easily become one of the ICC’s first targets.
In a statement on the launch of the investigation against Israel and the Palestinians, ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said:
In the end, our central concern must be for the victims of crimes, both Palestinian and Israeli, arising from the long cycle of violence and insecurity that has caused deep suffering and despair on all sides.
Even if one thinks that Israel and the Palestinians will be given fair trials for their alleged war crimes, the problem lies in the investigation itself. Choosing to try the most democratic country in the Middle East for actions taken against those committing violence against their people could be likened to a judge choosing to try a murderer and his victim on equal levels.
Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, all of whom are sworn to wipe Israel off the face of the map, should not be put on an equal scale with their democratic neighbors – Israel.