TEL AVIV – The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor reportedly met with Palestinian groups to discuss unsubstantiated Palestinian claims of Israeli war crimes but refused to hold similar meetings with Israeli organizations before announcing her controversial decision to move forward with an investigation, Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Sunday.
The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, a human rights group operating in Israel, the US and the UK, was denied an audience with the ICC’s top prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.
“For about a year we contacted the prosecutor several times and didn’t get an answer,” the head of the organization, Meir Linzen, told Channel 13.
Linzen’s association had drafted a legal opinion showing that the ICC did not have the jurisdiction to authorize such a probe. It also prepared reports showing the Palestinian Authority’s actions against Israel, including its so-called pay-for-slay program, paying salaries to terrorists and their families.
Bensouda did, however, meet with representatives of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
According to the Hebrew language outlet Ynet, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, National Security Council, Justice Ministry and military took part in joint talks to discuss the pending probe.
Bensouda on Friday said that there is a “basis” to probe Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories, including alleged war crimes in Gaza during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
In response to the ICC’s claims, an air force commander told Israel’s Channel 2 that Israel’s army goes to extreme lengths to protect civilians.
“The name of the game is precision,” he said. “The amount of times that I personally went out for an attack and got an order to ‘halt fire’ just because we weren’t sure that we’d hit the enemies we intended to — it’s a really big number.”
“We do our best to avoid mistakes, although we’re not totally free of mistakes. We learn our lessons and go forward,” another pilot said. “The Hague court isn’t much of a topic of conversation for our squadron.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed the court for its announcement, which he called “pure anti-Semitism.”
Referencing the story of Hanukkah, Netanyahu compared the Hague court to the Greek army that the Jews were victorious over some 2,200 years ago.
“The Maccabees fought the war of liberation for the Jewish people and the Jewish faith against the anti-Semitic decrees of the Seleucid Greeks,” Netanyahu said.
“They wanted to extinguish our fate, to stamp out our freedom, to drive us out of this land, to say we do not have the right to exist,” Netanyahu added.
“We have fought against immeasurable odds, as no people has fought in history. We crossed the abyss from extinction to survival, independence and now a thriving democracy,” he said.
“Yet we find ourselves now in the beginning of the 21st century, in the year 2019, where the ICC, that should know otherwise, [is] setting forth decrees that are just as anti-Semitic as the decrees of the ancient Greeks,” Netanyahu said.
Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of international law and the director of the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, slammed the court for its “anti-Israel bias” and called on the U.S. to impose sanctions.
“The US has a policy of implementing sanctions against ICC officials engaged in such illegitimate activities; now is the time to apply it,” Kontorovich told Breitbart.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren also condemned the measure for posing a “threat” to Israel.
“By spurring the ICC to criminalize Israel, the Palestinian Authority has posed a strategic threat to the Jewish State,” Oren told Breitbart. “The PA must be treated as an aggressor.”
On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the probe “unfairly targets” Israel.
Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein said the ICC’s move was motivated by “raw anti-Semitism.”
Commenting on Bensouda’s decision, Klein writes:
The IDF operates in a complex theater in which Palestinian terrorists use civilians as human shields, deliberately house their terrorist infrastructures in densely populated civilian areas and indiscriminately fire projectiles into Jewish civilian population zones.
By claiming that Israel’s self-defense is “disproportionate,” what exactly is the ICC trying to say? That instead of acting to minimize the terrorist threat against its civilians, Israel should respond to every act of Palestinian terrorism with an equivalent act? So if Hamas fires a rocket into a Jewish city, Israel should respond in kind by indiscriminately launching a terror rocket into a Palestinian city with the intent of killing civilians? That the next time a Palestinian stabs an Israeli, the Jewish state should send one of its own into Ramallah to stab a Palestinian civilian? The ICC charge is preposterous, nonsensical and negates Israel’s ability to defend itself and degrade Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure.