Mahmoud Abbas, war crimes and the ICC

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

Last week, I prepared for Pesach (Passover) by deciding to take the entire holiday as a personal vacation. For this year’s Pesach, I planned a nine-day break--until April 12, 2015.

I looked forward to it. I was excited. I would have complete freedom from my work: no reading, writing, research, record-keeping or publishing.

I was so excited, I wasn’t sure how I was going to use all that freedom.

Now I know: I went to work!

My break is broken—at least for today. My break broke because I couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t stop surfing the internet. I couldn’t stop looking for chinks in the armour of those who attack Israel.

I’ve found a chink. It’s simply too extraordinary to pass up.

It’s about Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It’s about his effort to use law as part of his war (‘lawfare’) against Israel.

Last week, Abbas’ anti-Israel war took a leap forward. On April 1, 2015, he gained entry to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He became a member of the ICC ‘club’.

That’s important. Abbas can’t really use international law to destroy Israel unless he’s a member of the ICC.

In the past, he’s said repeatedly that once his ‘Palestine’ got its ICC membership, he’d take Israel to Court for war crimes. He alleges that Israel committed war crimes while defending itself against Hamas rocket attacks in the 50-day Gaza-Israel war last summer. Hamas had fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians during the late spring, 2014. At one point during that period, Hamas was firing between 90-100 rockets a day at Israel’s civilians and cities.

Finally, in July, 2014, Israel decided to defend itself. It attacked the attackers. Since those attackers were firing their rockets at Israel from within heavily populated residential portions of Gaza, the launching pads Israel attacked were situated, naturally enough, in heavily populated areas.

Abbas wants the international community to criminalize Israel for that defense. But now he wants to do exactly what Israel did. He’s called for an attack on Gaza.

He‘s become so angry at its unity-government partner, Hamas, he wants Arab countries to launch a military strike against the Gaza Strip (Ari Yashar, “Abbas Calls on Arab States to Attack Hamas”, Arutz Sheva, March 28, 2015). Speaking at an Arab League Summit meeting, Abbas called for an attack against Hamas in Gaza. He wants that attack to be similar to the current Saudi-led campaign against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen (ibid).

That means one thing. He wants the Arab League to bomb Gaza.

Abbas wasn’t the only Fatah official to call for such an attack. Two days before he made this declaration, one of his senior advisers made similar remarks. This advisor was Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Religious and Islamic Affairs Minister for the PA. He’s also the PA’s Supreme Sharia (Islamic law) Judge (ibid). He called for Arab countries to strike Hamas with an ‘iron fist’ (ibid).

These calls for a military offensive against Hamas haven’t gone unnoticed. After all, when Israel launched its own offensive against Gaza in July-August 2014, Abbas had been quick to condemn Israel by calling Israeli bombing attacks "war crimes" (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas Wants Arabs to Bomb Gaza Strip”, gatestone institute, March 31, 2015).

But now, Abbas is calling on Arab armies to do the same thing Israel did--launch a military campaign against Hamas. He made this call even as the PA plans to bring "war crimes" charges against Israel for doing exactly the same thing in 2014 (ibid).

What’s going on here? Are we to believe that Abbas expects the ICC to allow Arabs to attack the Gaza strip so Abbas can remove Hamas from power in Gaza while Israel cannot be allowed to launch airstrikes at Gaza to defend itself against Hamas rockets fired at Israeli civilians (ibid)?

The PA's call should be brought to the attention of the ICC if and when Abbas proceeds with his plan to file "war crimes" charges against Israel for its war against Hamas (ibid). In addition, this call to attack Gaza should also be brought to the attention of Western governments and international Human Rights Organizations that condemned Israel for doing the same thing during its 2014 defensive war against Hamas (ibid).

As Toameh put it (above, ibid), the people who bring this Abbas call to violence to the attention of Western governments and Human Rights Organizations also need to ask Abbas a question. Since he wants to file war crimes charges against Israel for bombing Gaza, will he also file "war crimes" charges against his Arab brethren once they start bombing the Gaza Strip?

The Story of Israel’s Destiny will be filled with absurdities, some more absurd than this one. Each absurdity will have its place in that Story. Each absurdity will bring Israel’s Destiny ever closer.

Stay tuned.