Israel’s war crimes investigation

Recently, Israel has asked the United States new administration to protect it from International Criminal Court (ICC) war crimes investigation against Israel. Israel had been in coordination with Trump administration to thwart ICC moves against both America and Israel. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who has served in that role for the last nine years, is set to step down in the coming weeks and Israel wants to utilize this opportunity in its favor through coordination with US for selection of new ICC’s Prosecutor. 

Ms. Fatou Bensouda remained tough on America and Israel because she decided to investigate whether the US committed war crimes in the war in Afghanistan, and whether Israel did the same in the 2014’s operation Protective edge. Fatou said in a statement that she is satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and there are reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in to situation in Palestine. After this decision of Fatou Bensouda, America reacted sharply on ICC’s discourse against America and its close ally Israel. US imposed sanctions against the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko in December 2020. The sanctions included a freeze on assets of both ICC’s officials held in the US or subject to the US law.

The former US President Trump specifically made it clear in his executive order, that the United States move was also aimed at protecting Israel. International Human rights groups and civil society condemned the Trump administration’s moves against the court and termed it as persecution of those, who tasked with prosecuting international crimes. Presently, Biden administration has not opined on the subject publicly. Earlier, in Obama era, when Biden was Vice President the US opted not to join the ICC due to the perceived threat it posed to American security forces in Afghanistan.

According to reports, the predecessors of Fatou at the ICC, largely limited to investigate war crimes in the developing world, whereas, Bensouda expanded the reach of ICC to crimes against humanity, and said that war crimes allegedly perpetrated by American, Israeli and British soldiers must be looked into those. According to Mr. Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory, Ms. Fatou Bensouda had spent five years in reviewing the initial evidences as part of a preliminary investigation in the 2014 war on Gaza, the Israeli settlements and the killing and wounding of Palestinian demonstrators near the Gaza frontier in 2018.

According to Human Rights Watch report, Israeli forces had been using lethal force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip in 2018, who posed no imminent threat to life may amount to war crimes. As per report, Israeli forces had killed more than 100 protestors and wounded thousands with live ammunition.

The Human Rights Watch called on UN General Assembly to adapt a resolution that calls for exploring measures for protection of Palestinians in Gaza Strip and also asked for UN inquiry to investigate all Human rights violations and abuses, and to identify Israeli officials involved in issuing unlawful open fire orders on protestors. Amnesty International also reported Israeli alleged war crimes in Gaza Strip during March to December 2018 and demanded an Independent inquiry by the UNO to ascertain the war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Palestinian territory. As per independent experts, the United States government advocates for protection of human rights all around the world particularly, the countries at odds with it, including China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and other. However, where United States itself or its allies are involved in Human rights abuses such as Israel in Palestine, India in Kashmir, and US itself in Afghanistan and Iraq etc. United States tries to cover up such issues under the blanket of veto or other coercive policies. Today, International community expects, something different from Joe Biden administration, and hopes that US administration will stand for the rights of depressed Palestinian people and will not obstruct the justice.