Simon Wiesenthal Centre criticizes ICC probe of Israel

“Any investigation of crimes committed in the Palestinian Territory should focus on continuous attacks from Gaza against Israelis by Hamas."

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

International Criminal Court at The Hague
International Criminal Court at The Hague

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre on Saturday criticized the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor’s decision to open a full investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes” in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled territories.

In a statement, the organization noted that two weeks ago it was at the ICC serving, together with five other NGOs, as “Amicus Curiae” in the “Hearings on the Situation of Afghanistan.”

“Under the umbrella of ‘alleged crimes in Afghanistan’ - that implicitly focused on the United States - our hope was to determine the incapacity of the ICC to exercise jurisdiction in the case of non-State parties,” it said.

“We had noted that, as the United States and Israel had never joined the ICC - and were thus ‘non-State parties’ - they could not be subject to attack,” stated the Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels.

“Israel is a democracy, where the judiciary is independent, thus maintaining and protecting the rule of law,” he added.

“Any investigation of crimes committed in the Palestinian Territories should focus on the continuous volleys of missiles launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians, the human shields tactics applied by Hamas in Gaza, the encouragement of terrorism by the PLO in the West Bank, the widespread abuse of women and children, the practice of torture, the suppression of freedom of expression, etc...”

“May the ICC truly serve as a politically-free ‘Court of last resort’ for the clearly identifiable victims and not for the perpetrators... the ICC must not be manipulated by Palestine and its supporters,” concluded Samuels.

The prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said on Friday that she is “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine.”

Bensouda urged judges to rule on the court's jurisdiction "without undue delay".

The prosecutor added however that she did not require any authorization from judges to open a probe as there had been a referral from the Palestinian Authority, which joined the court in 2015 and has since filed a series of legal complaints with it against Israel.