Israel receives letter from ICC detailing war crimes investigation

Israel receives letter from ICC detailing war crimes investigation
2 min read
18 March, 2021
A letter has reportedly been sent to Israel laying out the scope of a war crimes investigation launched by the international court.
Israel has 30 days to respond to the ICC's letter [Getty]
Israel has taken receipt of a letter from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that formally details what issues and events will be subject to their war crimes investigation, according to reports on Wednesday by Israeli Channel 13.

The letter was reportedly delivered to Israel over the weekend and a response is currently been formulated by Israel's National Security Council. 

The one-and-a-half page letter states that the ICC intends to investigate three events and areas: the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas; Israeli settlement policy; and the 2018 Great March of Return protests, during which dozens of Palestinians were killed. 

The ICC, nor Israel, has confirmed the sending of the letter or its receipt. 

According to reports, Israel has 30 days to respond and it is believed that they will, shifting from their former position of refusing to cooperate with the international court, but they are expected to question the court's legal jurisdiction to hear the case. 

The term of the current chief prosecutor at the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, ends in June, and Israel is hoping that her replacement, British lawmaker Karim Khan, will be more favourable for Israel, and could even end the investigation altogether. 

Amid reports that the ICC could begin issuing arrest warrants against former Israeli military officers in the coming months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz have been seeking support from European allies, according to public broadcaster Kan.

The two men are arguing that the ICC is biased and that an independent legal system to prosecute war crimes already exists in Israel. 

Netanyahu and Gantz's efforts are being supported by President Reuven Rivlin and IDF chief Aviv Kohavi, who are currently on a three-day trip to Europe to plead Israel's case. 

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the formal opening of the war crimes investigation on 3 March. 

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"The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the situation since 13 June 2014," she said in a statement.

While being rejected by Israel and its international allies, the move was welcomed by Palestinians, with Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh describing the move as "a victory for justice and humanity".

Since the announcement, Ramallah has been preparing documents and submitting evidence of Israeli war crimes to the ICC. 

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