Why Israel fears the ICC war crimes investigation

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Benny Gantz, the Israeli defence minister, was military chief of staff in 2014 and could be at risk of arrest if he travels abroad.  (photo: Dan Williams / Reuters)
Officials recognize there is a real risk of prosecution over the deadly 2014 conflict.

By Peter Beaumont | The Guardian | Mar 3, 2021

If this conflict was different from previous wars, however, it was in the immediate recognition by some Israeli officials that there was a serious risk of investigation by the ICC that could ultimately lead to Israeli soldiers and politicians in the chain of command being investigated for war crimes

The date of 13 June 2014 listed by the international criminal court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, as the starting point for its investigation into potential war crimes committed by Israelis and Palestinians is a significant one.

The day before, as that year’s World Cup opened, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by a Hamas cell on the West Bank while hitchhiking in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Tensions escalated rapidly: Israel would within weeks launch its third war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip while Palestinian militants would launch rockets into Israel.

It was one of the deadliest conflicts between the two sides in decades. On the Palestinian side, more than 2,100 people – including civilians – were killed during 50 days of fighting. On the Israeli side, 67 Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed.

If this conflict was different from previous wars, however, it was in the immediate recognition by some Israeli officials that there was a serious risk of investigation by the ICC that could ultimately lead to Israeli soldiers and politicians in the chain of command being investigated for war crimes.

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