Only the day before the end of a month-long deadline for a response to the International Criminal Court’s investigation into possible war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israeli officials have made clear they will not co-operate with any such investigation.
The ICC sent letters to the various groups expected to be a party to the investigation on 9 March, giving a month to respond.
In a statement yesterday, Thursday 8 April, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Israel reiterates its unequivocal position according to which the court in The Hague lacks the authority to open an investigation against it.”
The claim rests on the fact that Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute that inaugurated the ICC. The statement was the first time an Israeli official has explicitly said that it will not participate in the investigation.
In 2015, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine, which concluded in December 2019.
The ICC’s jurisdiction over possible war crimes committed in the Occupied Territories was then tested by a three-judge panel. Its rightful jurisdiction was announced in February this year.
On 3 March, Ms. Bensouda announced that the court would proceed with an investigation into possible crimes committed by both Israelis and Palestinians since 13 June 2014.
13 June 2014 was the first of a 50-day Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, during which at least 2,251 Palestinians died, including 1,462 civilians. 67 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.
Israel’s participation is not a prerequisite for the ICC’s investigation, which is set to proceed.