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March 18, 2021 1:46 pm
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Israel Receives International Criminal Court Letter on War Crimes Probe, Details Focus on Gaza and Settlements: Report

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel has reportedly been sent a letter from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague listing the main areas of its investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups.

According to a Channel 13 report, the one-and-a-half page letter, which was received by Israel over the weekend, provides details about the three areas the ICC probe will focus on: the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, also known as Operation Protective Edge; the demonstrations along Gaza’s border with Israel in 2018; and Israel’s settlement policy.

Israel now has 22 days to respond to the letter, which was neither published by the ICC nor officially acknowledged to have been received by Israel. A spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs declined an Algemeiner request to comment.

Meanwhile, Israel’s National Security Council is said to have met for consultations on how to respond to the allegations, but no decision has yet been made on the course of action. Israel has already argued that the international court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

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Outgoing ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who will be replaced in June by British lawmaker Karim Khan, first announced the opening of the investigation on March 3 into alleged war crimes by Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem since 2014.

Israel President Reuven Rivlin, ahead of his visit with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, called the international court’s decision “morally and legally bankrupt.”

“Any attempt to pressure Israel through international bodies and the cynical political exploitation of international law is doomed to fail and will contribute nothing to improving relations between us and the Palestinians,” Rivlin wrote on Twitter. “We will never apologize for the right and the duty to protect our citizens from all threats to their security. We have seen the damage that politicization has done to UN human rights bodies, and see the damage being done to the International Criminal Court right now through political pressure.”

To make the case against the ICC decision, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry has launched a new website to showcase its position on the question of the international court’s jurisdiction, with the support of international legal experts.

According to the website, the “ICC was created to act as a court of last resort with the capacity to prosecute individuals, when national jurisdictions for any reason are unable or unwilling to do so. The Court was never intended to pursue democratic states with robust and effective legal systems. The ICC lacks jurisdiction over Israel as only sovereign states can delegate criminal jurisdiction over their territory to the Court.”

“The ICC decision illustrates the outcome of a politicized process and the campaign against Israel led in recent years by the boycott and delegitimization organizations, backed by terrorist organizations and the Palestinian Authority,” Minister of Strategic Affairs Michael Biton told The Algemeiner in an emailed statement.

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