Israel Preparing for International Court to Launch Probe Into War Crimes ‘Within Days,’ Officials Say

Israeli officials are preparing for an International Criminal Court's decision on whether it can open an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Israel in the Palestinian Territories "within days."

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The decision, which they expect will be made public shortly, will come after a years-long process in The Hague to determine the extent of the Court's jurisdiction in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

This was sparked by a 2015 declaration by the Palestian government to give jurisdiction to the intergovernmental institution "over alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014."

In December, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she had found a basis for an investigation against Israel and Hamas over suspicions that war crimes were committed in the Palestinian Territories in the period beginning in 2014. But she asked that the court issue a pre-trial ruling first on its jurisdiction in cases involving the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda during the trial of Malian Islamist militant Al-Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, The Hague, Netherlands, July 8,2019. Eva Plevier/רויטרס

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump, in coordination with Israel, ordered that sanctions be imposed on officials involved in the International Criminal Court’s probe into suspicions that U.S. troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan. 

Following the announcement, Netanyahu congratulated the decision to impose sanctions on the "corrupt and biased International Criminal Court," calling it a "kangaroo court" and a "politicized court obsessed with conducting witch hunts against Israel, the United States and other democracies that respect human rights."

Senior Trump administration officials have also said on several occasions that they would view a decision to investigate Israel as a “political” step that could prompt additional action by the United States. The announced move by the United States led to a response by dozens of countries, which this week announced their reaffirmation of support for the court.