Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday slammed the decision by the outgoing International Criminal Court chief prosecutor to probe potential war crimes committed by Israel in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The decision, Netanyahu said, was the essence of "hypocrisy and anti-Semitism."
"The State of Israel is under attack tonight," Netanyahu said.
"The biased court at The Hague has made a decision that is the essence of anti-Semitism and hypocrisy. It has ruled that our heroic and moral soldiers who fight against the cruelest terrorists on Earth are actually war criminals," he said.
"The tribunal set up to prevent the recurrence of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jewish people is now turning against the state of the Jewish people. Of course it is not saying a word against Iran, Syria and other dictatorships that are committing true war crimes," he said.
"The court is already biased against the State of Israel. There is only one thing we can do and that is fight for the truth in every nation, on every stage and in every forum. [We will] protect every soldier, every commander and citizen. And I promise you this: we will fight for the truth until this scandalous decision is overturned."
The ICC decision announced earlier Wednesday came after the court ruled on Feb. 5 that it has jurisdiction in the case, a move that prompted swift rejection from Washington and Jerusalem.
"The decision to open an investigation followed a painstaking preliminary examination undertaken by my office that lasted close to five years," chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
"In the end, our central concern must be for the victims of crimes, both Palestinian and Israeli, arising from the long cycle of violence and insecurity that has caused deep suffering and despair on all sides," Bensouda said.
"My office will take the same principled, non-partisan, approach that it has adopted in all situations over which its jurisdiction is seized."
The decision was widely condemned by right-wing politicians and organizations in Israel.
The Yesha Council, the umbrella group of West Bank settlements, accused the ICC of trying to intimidate Israel.
"Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley [the West Bank] are as legitimate as any other Israeli town or village and comply with all the requirements of the law," the council said in a statement.
"The anti-Semitism displayed by the ICC is just one more in a long line of tall tales that are removed from reality."
The council called on the government to extend its authority over Area C, where most Israeli settlements are located and which constitutes 61% of the West Bank.
Echoing the prime minister, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said the decision "screams of anti-Semitism and hypocrisy."
The Yamina (rightwards) party, headed by former defense minister Naftali Bennett, also called the decision "anti-Semitic."
"The IDF is and will remain the most moral military in the world and no fake investigation will prevent the State of Israel from protecting its citizens," the party said.
The left-wing Meretz party, however, placed the blame for the decision on right-wing politicians who have led the government for more than a decade.
"The settlers and the right wing are dragging Israel all the way to The Hague," said Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz.
"Ongoing construction in the settlements and threats of annexation [of the West Bank] are implicating Israel, which now stands accused of war crimes."