Israel to defend troops following ICC war crimes ruling

Israel vows to defend troops following ICC war crimes ruling
2 min read
07 February, 2021
The ICC's ruling opens the way to investigate alleged war crimes committed in the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.
The ICC's ruling opens the way to investigate alleged the 2014 Gaza war [Getty]
Israel said on Saturday it will defend its troops after the International Criminal Court [ICC] at The Hague ruled that it has jurisdiction to open a war crimes investigation over offences committed in Palestinian territories.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday in a letter to the IDF that Israel "will act resolutely to prevent harm to IDF commanders and soldiers". 

Gantz slammed ruling as "grave" and "unfounded" and slammed the ICC as a "a tool in the hands of the enemies of … Israel, and those who seek to harm it through the political exploitation of international bodies".

"The decision of the judges at The Hague is grave and has no basis in international law. The proceeding…is conducted without authority and is unfounded," he said.

If an investigation opens, several Israeli officials, including the prime minister, and army heads, would be subject to criminal proceedings and possibly arrest warrants.

Earlier, Israeli PM Benjiamin Netanyahu also slammed the ICC over its ruling, calling the move "pure anti-Semitism".

The ICC's ruling opens the way to investigate alleged war crimes committed in the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

The 50-day war, which devastated the coastal enclave and left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers, has already been the subject of a five-year preliminary ICC probe and a string of critical reports.

For many Palestinians, an ICC probe is a belated chance of justice for victims of Israeli attacks.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Friday praised the ruling.

"This decision (of the ICC) is a victory for justice and humanity, for the values of truth, fairness and freedom, and for the blood of the victims and their families," Shtayyeh said, according to the official Wafa news agency. 

The move is a "message to perpetrators" who "will not go unpunished", Shtayyeh added, calling on the ICC to speed up legal proceedings over the 2014 conflict in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian prisoners and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

According to ICC rules, if Israel refuses to cooperate with the court, the ICC could issue secret arrest warrants.

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