Top Israeli officials are alarmed about the potential consequences of the International Criminal Court's decision to launch a probe into war crimes allegedly committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories, according to a report by Channel 12 News on Saturday.
The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Friday signaled she is preparing to open a formal probe after asking judges exactly what territory a future investigation could cover. The announcement ended five years of preliminary investigations into alleged crimes by both Israeli forces and Palestinians.
According to Channel 12, some former and current Israeli government officials as well as senior IDF personnel could be vulnerable to prosecution on the international court, should the probe go through and yield indictments.
A full ICC investigation could only lead to charges against individuals as states cannot be charged by the court.
The ICC's preliminary investigation focused on the 2014 Gaza war - known as Operation Protective Edge - which left 2,251 Palestinians and 74 Israelis dead. While most of the casualties on the Israeli side were soldiers, more than half of those killed on the Palestinian side are believed to have been civilians.
In addition, the preliminary probe also looked into the violence on the Israel-Gaza border during the March of Return protests along the security fence. which began in March 2018. A number of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during the demonstrations, which have a propensity to turn extremely violent with the protesters hurling stones and explosives at the border.
The prosecutor also said she intends to investigate those responsible for construction in the settlements (since she considers settlement building a war crime) and the settling of Israelis in the West Bank beginning June 2014.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Saturday branded the ICC decision “unreasonable,” joining a long line of U.S. and Israeli politicians to slam Bensouda's decision, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
While Israel is not a member of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction, Palestinians have been recognized as a member state and requested an investigation.