The ICC’s ongoing efforts against the State of Israel

With a request to reopen the 2010 Mavi Marmara probe that was closed by the ICC in 2014, Israel is now subject to accusations and possible future prosecution on human rights violations and accusations of war crimes

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The ICC request to reopen 2010 probe:

The International Criminal Court of The Hague has requested to reopen the probe on the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in which Turkish activists attempted to illegally enter the Gaza Strip. The probe was closed in November of 2014 when the court decided there was “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed.”

On May 31, 2010, IDF forces were forced to board “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” vessel when activists refused to follow Israel’s security protocols off the shore’s of the Gaza Strip which resulted in the death of 9 activists in clashes with IDF soldiers. Several IDF soldiers were severely injured in the incident.

Just a few weeks ago, on June 23, Swedish pro-Palestinian activists organized a three-vessel flotilla called “Marianne av Göteborg “ with a mission to “break the blockade of Gaza”. The flotilla even included an Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset (Parliament) Basel Ghattas and former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. The flotilla was reverted and forced to dock on Israel’s shores of Ashdod.

On Thursday, the ICC sent the request to reopen the probe of the Mavi Marmara flotilla to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who closed the case against Israel in November of 2014.

 A panel of three ICC judges stated on Thursday July 16, 2015 that there were “committed material errors in her determination of the gravity of the potential case” calling on Bensouda to “reconsider her decision not to investigate, if it concludes that the validity of the decision is materially affected by an error, whether it is an error of procedure, an error of law, or an error of fact.”

Closure of the probe in 2014:

Bensouda ruled in 2014 concluding that the probe would desist. She said at the time that “Following a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli Defense Forces intercepted the ‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla’ on 31 May 2010” however that, that none of the case “would not be of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the ICC.”

The probe was officially closed in November of 2014, the ICC stating, “Israel believes that it was pointless to initiate a preliminary inquiry in the first place, and regrets that the resources and precious time of the Court – an institution established to combat the world’s worst atrocities – were allocated to an unfounded and politically motivated legal complaint.”

Israel’s response to request to reopen Mavi Marmara probe:

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the ICC attempts on Friday July 17, referring to the “motivated cynical politics” as continued measures to attack the State of Israel. He stated that, “At a time when Assad in Syria is slaughtering tens of thousands of his own people, when Iran is executing hundreds and Hamas in Gaza is using children as human shields, the court chooses to deal with Israel for cynical political reasons. Against this hypocrisy, our soldiers will continue to protect us in the field and we will defend them in the international arena,” he said.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also addressed the ICC’s attempts stating, “The Hague court already ruled that no war crimes were committed on the Marmara. It’s very puzzling to me why the International Criminal Court would decide to open a probe into soldiers who defended themselves against brutal attacks by terrorists aboard the Marmara. There are Palestinian actors who are trying all the time to incite international bodies against Israel. I hope those same bodies will be able to identify the incitement and not help it along.”

Illegality/Hypocrisy within the ICC:

Both Israel and the United States are not signatories of the Rome Statute of the ICC. Israel withdraw its placement in the ICC in 2012, and the United States stance is that it’s Constitution does not allow any body other than the Supreme Court to hold judicial authority and that the ICC violates several international laws.

For instance, only states are permitted to sign the Rome Statute, the Palestinians, who have no state, ratified on January 2, 2015. The ICC accepted the Palestinians to the ICC, however, there is no legal validity of the Palestinians as signatories.

Canada, who were acceded as signatories in 2002, officially denied the Palestinian entry to the ICC as Canada does not recognize “Palestine” as a state. The United States also does not recognize “Palestine” as a signatory, the United States State Department opposing the Palestinian Authority’s officially in July as “It doesn’t qualify to join the ICC” as it is not a state.

However, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Senegal’s Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba, stated in early July that the ICC “welcomed the deposit by the State of Palestine of the instruments of accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court… the deposit of the instruments of accession by the State of Palestine” adding that, “Each ratification of the Rome Statute constitutes welcome progress towards its universality. I call on all members of the United Nations to join this permanent and independent system of international justice to fight against impunity and prevent the most serious crimes under international law, which is based on the principle of complementarity with domestic jurisdictions.”

There are 123 official signatories of the Rome Statute as of today.

Operation Protective Edge probe:

The most recent probe into Israel was made after the Palestinian Authority signed the Rome Statute in April of 2015, joining the ICC as the PA continues with their efforts in accusations and measures against Israel, claiming that the IDF committed war crimes during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

The Palestinian Authority was denied recognition by the United Nation’s Security Council just weeks before, turning to the ICC in the efforts for statehood recognition.

In late June, The Palestinian Authority notified that it intends to submit its first file to the International Criminal Court in The Hague pursuing war crimes against the State of Israel during Operation Protective Edge. The file was submitted on June 25 to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

And in June of 2015, the United Nation’s Human Rights Council finished its conclusion on Operation Protective Edge- a report that finds both Hamas and Israel as likely of committing war crimes in the summer of 2014.

And on July 5, the United Nations voted to adopt the UN Human Rights Council probe into Operation Protective Edge. Following the announcement of the United Nations adoption of the probe, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, “In light of the UN’s Gaza report, we will consider whether or not to stay in the Human Rights Council.”