Friday, June 14, 2024

Mossad chief threatened ICC Prosecutor over Gaza war crimes investigation against Israel: report  

In a revelation, The Guardian reported on Tuesday that the former head of Israel’s intelligence agency (Mossad) directly threatened the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor. This was in an effort to pressure her into abandoning the 2021 investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

According to the report, Yossi Cohen, who served as Mossad director from 2016 to 2021, met secretly with then-ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in the years leading up to her decision to open the war crimes probe. In these purported clandestine meetings, Cohen allegedly deployed tactics of intimidation against Bensouda.  

“You should help us and let us take care of you. You don’t want to be getting into things that could compromise your security or that of your family,” one source quoted Cohen as telling the prosecutor.

The revelations align with previous reports suggesting Israel and allies have sought to undermine the ICC and pressure it to drop Palestinian territory cases.

Arrest warrants requested

The claims about Cohen’s conduct emerged days after Bensouda’s successor, Karim Khan, requested arrest warrants for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the 2021 Gaza conflict.

Khan stated that solid grounds existed to believe the Israeli leaders bore criminal responsibility, while Hamas figures Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh also faced charges.  

Israel rejects world court’s jurisdiction

Israel, a non-ICC member, rejected the court’s jurisdiction and arrest warrant requests. The US, Israel’s key ally, also opposed Khan’s moves, with President Joe Biden calling them “outrageous” and suggesting potential legislation penalising the ICC.

However, the revelations about alleged Mossad tactics raise questions about Israel’s efforts to obstruct the ICC investigation.

Indictments’ potential impact

Legal experts believe the ICC indictments could impact the perceived legitimacy of Israel’s military actions in Gaza and its occupation. It may also complicate Israel’s relations with European ICC members.

Palestinians are concerned Israel and the U.S. will continue pressuring the ICC regarding the arrest warrant requests against Netanyahu and others.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 36,050 Palestinians have been killed, and 81,026 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

The relentless Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip.


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