ICC under pressure from Israel for 9 years

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 8:12 am

International Criminal Court (ICC). The task of this court is to punish the perpetrators of genocide, human rights violations and war criminals worldwide. But Israel is carrying out continuous killings in Gaza, showing thumbs up to international law.

The country has even put pressure on the ICC to investigate them. Israel has been threatening investigators with espionage, hacking and intimidation. Their activities have been going on for years. On Tuesday, The Guardian’s investigation revealed Israel’s efforts to block a nine-year-long war crimes investigation.

When the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that he was seeking arrest warrants against Israel and Hamas leaders, he issued a cryptic warning: ‘I insist that all efforts to obstruct, intimidate or unduly influence the officials of this court cease immediately. Must do.’

Karim Khan did not provide specific details of the attempt to interfere in the work of the ICC. But he then cited a clause in the court’s constitution. He said, those obstructing the work of the court will be treated as a criminal offence. And if such behavior continues, ‘my office will not hesitate to prosecute them’.

Although not directly named, it is clear that the message was addressed to Israel. Israel-based magazine +972 and an investigation into some phone calls later found Tel Aviv had been hacking emails, documents and messages of senior ICC officials for nine years. They were even threatening to obstruct the investigation.

Yossi Cohen, the former head of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency Mossad, has threatened Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). It also called for a war crimes investigation into Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

Sources told The Guardian that Cohen made the threat in a series of secret meetings over several years. Because of these threats, Bensouda decided to formally launch an investigation into war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2021. The investigation is believed to have concluded last week. Because ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan has requested the issuance of arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant and three Hamas leaders.

The ex-Mossad chief is believed to have had the highest level approval of the Israeli government for this threat. Because Tel Aviv considers ICC as a threat to bring Israeli soldiers to justice. So this threat is consistent with their policy.

Another Israeli source claimed the threat was intended to persuade Bensouda not to investigate or to gain his cooperation. Bensouda informed senior ICC officials about Cohen’s persistent and threatening behavior, four sources confirmed.

Cohen allegedly told Bensouda, ‘You should cooperate with us. You should not be involved in anything that puts you or your family’s safety at risk.’ A source described Cohen’s tactics as ‘disgusting’. The Mossad official’s strategy included threatening to use leaked information about Bensouda’s family to discredit him.

After the incident of this threat came to light, there was great concern among international legal experts. According to the Rome Statute, intimidating or threatening ICC officials is considered a crime against the administration of the Court of Justice. The ICC was established by this Rome Statute. Karim Khan recently warned that he would prosecute attempts to obstruct or improperly influence the proceedings of the ICC. However, the Israeli government has denied the allegations, calling them baseless and politically motivated. Both Cohen and Bensouda declined to comment.

The former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, was reportedly involved in Mossad’s operations against the ICC. He assisted in this work.

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