Arutz Sheva exclusive
'We're Fighting the Lawfare Battle Israel is Ignoring'

Shurat Hadin head tells Arutz Sheva how Abbas, Mashaal and other leaders already under their sights, state is totally dropping the ball.

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Shimon Cohen,

Abbas and Mashaal to stand trial?
Abbas and Mashaal to stand trial?
Mohammed al-Hums/Flash 90

After the European Union (EU) removed Hamas from its terror list and recognized "Palestine" on Wednesday, Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center) founder and chairwoman Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner told Arutz Sheva that the foreign ministry isn't doing anything to defend Israel on the legal front.

The attorney confirmed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has until now not carried through its threats to sue Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague out of fear that such a move will allow the PA to be a target of ICC lawsuits as well.

"From the moment they became an observer state at the Hague court we warned from our side and explained that the authority is two-way, and if they sue so will they be sued. Therefore I understand that what prevents them is also the fear of being sued for the crimes they committed in the intifada," said Darshan-Leitner.

The documented responsibility of PA leaders for shootings, suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks constitutes responsibility for acts of genocide and war crimes, noted the attorney. "There's a clear and present danger to the terror leaders and the Palestinian Authority that they themselves will be stood on trial if they join the court," she added.

However, whereas Shurat Hadin has actively been filing suits, the state of Israel has not been pulling its weight according to Darshan-Leitner.

"The state of Israel has to get up and do something. The state must act. It has numerous attorneys and seasoned prosecutors. Let them rack their brains and think of how to deal with things," she stated.

Describing the biased international situation, the attorney added "this is a threat and a risk. It's clear to everyone that if the Palestinians submit complaints Israel will lose. Therefore we need to create a strategy and process against this threat. What we're doing (at Shurat Hadin) isn't a replacement for the state."

Israel "isn't doing a thing. At least not that is known to me," said Darshan-Leitner, pointing out that in response to the EU's removal of Hamas from its terrorist organization list, Israel has decided not to act and instead hope the Europeans will return the group to the list.

Fighting on the 'lawfare' front lines

Shurat Hadin has already concretely tied two leaders to terrorist attacks and submitted indictments against them she noted, pointing out the ICC proceedings the group has launched against PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal.

"We didn't wait for them to join as members (of the ICC) because the court has authority over them since they are Jordanian citizens and Jordan is a member state of the court, and indictments can be submitted over their international crimes against any citizen of a member state of the court," she explained.

The attorney noted that Mashaal was indicted for the Hamas execution without trial of 39 residents of Gaza at the end of Operation Protective Edge, in callous shootings conducted before cameras. She pointed out "that constitutes a war crime and the court is authorized to discuss this topic."

As for Abbas the crime filed against him was rocket attacks against Israel committed by his Fatah faction in Gaza during the operation.

"The Fatah movement bragged that it was taking an active part in the war and fired hundreds and thousands of rockets, and even detailed what direction and which communities it shot at," she pointed out. "Abbas has delegational responsibility for what happens in Fatah and therefore we submitted an indictment against him."

Darshan-Leitner added "against the other senior members we are preparing now lawsuits for the crimes they committed during the intifada. Preventative intelligence, the Palestinian police, their (version of) Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and everyone else connected to the acts committed during the intifada will be put on trial."

"These suits are a counterbalance to the future suits that the Palestinian are planning to file. As long as they're at the court the suits are a deterrent. If the Palestinians decide to sue, the court won't be able to avoid discussing (their crimes) if there's a suit," she added.