Two weeks ago, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence service, located the car of Ahmed Jaabari, the military leader of Hamas in Gaza. The Shin Bet officials warned the Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, and the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There was an opportunity of a few seconds to assassinate Jaabari. The head of aviation, Amir Eshel, gave the order: “Kill the bastard.”
Several years ago, the Palestinian Authority tried to submit criminal cases against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, but the prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said “Palestine” was not yet a state, and only states could file cases.
With a vote in the UN General Assembly on an upgrade of the Palestinians status to that of a non-member statehood, the PA will try to refile the cases if dubbed a “state”. So if the Palestinians land at the International Criminal Court – established in the late 1990s as a last resort to punish mass murder and torture – Amir Eshel and other Israeli generals could be prosecuted for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”.
All of the great leaders of Hamas – Ahmed Yassin, Saleh Shehada, Abd al Aziz al Rantisi and finally Ahmed Jaabari – have been killed by Israel during extrajudicial operations. Over the past decade, Israel has carried out 234 targeted killings in which 387 Palestinians were killed. The International Criminal Court considers these killings illegal.
That’s why former U.S. President George W. Bush, in 2002, enacted the American Service Members Protection Act, also known as the “Hague Invasion”, meant to protect U.S. troops from the Court. Otherwise, the Department of Justice lawyers, like John Yoo, who authorized waterboarding on Al Qaeda operatives, or the CIA officials like Josè Rodriguez, who were in charged of these techniques, could be put on trial in The Hague.
To understand what could happen if the Palestinians enjoin the court, General Doron Almog was due to arrive in London with a flight of El Al, but the Israeli embassy warned that there was an arrest warrant issued by a British magistrate. Almog didn’t even get off the plane and went back to Tel Aviv.
The Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu tried to indict the former Israeli Defense Minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and six military officers accused of plotting assassinations of Hamas leader Salah Shehade, who was responsible to the murder of hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings in the early 2000′s.
In December 2007 Minister Avi Dichter refused to participate in a conference in Britain to avoid the risk of being arrested. A year earlier, MK and former IDF CoS “Bougie” Yaalon also risked his detention in New Zealand.
This jurisdiction was encouraged by the detention in 1998 of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in Britain.
If the Palestinian Arabs reach The Hague, they will ask to prosecute Israel’s interrogations technique. During the preparation of a targeted killing, Israel l relies on some “physical pressure” during interrogations of terrorists, but in a much more selective way than in the past.
In 1987, a commission in Israel headed by Judge Moshe Landau, who presided at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, faced the problem of these interrogations. The casus belli was the hijacking of a busload of civilians; two members of the terror commando ended up in the hands of Shin Bet, but they came out dead.
Landau published a resolution: if the interrogation can prevent terrorist attacks, and thus save innocents’ lives, then a certain “physical pressure” is allowed (as the shaking, the “tiltul”). Amnesty International then accused Israel of being “the only country in the world to have officially legalized torture,”ignoring, of course, all the countries wo don’t bring these issues to the courts and where torture is practiced as a matter of routine on anyone against the regime.
Among the measures taken to exert psychological pressure against Hamas terrorist leaders in prison is shaving their beards (even the Palestinian Authority has used this method). The humiliation is that the leaders of the terror group feel ashamed to appear in public. Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of Hamas in Gaza, is an example.
Once accepted in the court, the Palestinians can ask The Hague to prosecute the Israelis involved inany of these methods.
In 1999, Israel’s Supreme Court banned the practice of “physical pressure”. Since then the use of enhanced interrogation tecniques has been rarer, and the Attorney General never opened an investigation.
Because these techniques work and save innocent civilian lives, Hamas terrorists were the object of them. These kind of interrogations work to such an extent that even the former military leader of Hamas, Saleh Shehada (later killed by a missile), cooperated with the Israeli authorities while in jail.
If the Palestinian Arabs get the UN membership, other Israeli actions will be included in the war-crimes section, such as the following charges against Avi Dichter: “willful killing, torture, or inhumane treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity, and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.
If the Palestinian Arabs land in The Hague, foreign companies like Elbit, which are building Israel’s security fence, can also be targeted with sanctions. Any business with Israeli companies located over the Green Line will be boycotted all over the world also through legal means.
Israel’s negative feelings about the nature of the Court began with its inception.
During the UN convention that drafted the constitution, a group of Islamic countries led by Egypt insisted on including Israel’s construction in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in the list of war crimes. Furthermore, the convention refused to classify terrorism as an international crime.
The distortion of international law against Israel by the Court was also crystal clear in the inclusion, as a war crime, of: “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. The inclusion of this offense, under the pressure of Arab states, and the addition of the phrase “directly or indirectly”, was intended to dismantle the Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, Yesha.
The concept of removing all Jews from a certain region, that brings back the tragedy that befell the Jewish people in World War II, has become acceptable in the global arena and law when it is applied to the land of Israel and its Jews.
The day the Palestinian Arabs reach The Hague, Israel will be undermined in the right to defend itself from genocidal attacks, it will be portrayed as the epitome of the human rights violator and it will be boycotted in its right to live in their historical land. And ultimately, Israel’s very right to exist will be at stake.
In May of 1940, the Germans established their occupational administration for the Netherlands in The Hague.
Many Jews committed suicide. Approximately 80% of the 10,000 Jews of The Hague were then deported. Most were murdered.
Seventy years later, now from the sleek Court’s building at the outskirts of The Hague, the Israeli Jew is legally and humanitarianly sentenced to death
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.