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ICC’s (Not so) shocking bias against Israel

Created by ChatGPT with DALL-E, 2024.
Created by ChatGPT with DALL-E, 2024.

It is outrageous that the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, has issued arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. These allegations, which include crimes against humanity and several apparent war crimes, definitely lack substantial evidence and seem to be politically motivated. This situation implicitly endorses the terrorist tactics used by Hamas, which is concerning, given the recent global shift towards standing with radical Islamic terrorism rather than sovereignty. It is clear that the ICC’s actions are biased, unfair, and detrimental to security and stability in an already flimsy region.

It is important to recognize that despite facing geopolitical challenges and constant threats from radical Islamic terrorist organizations dedicated to its destruction, the State of Israel is the only functioning Democracy in the Middle East, a context that must not be underestimated. It is widely known that Israel operates within a robust legal framework that primarily upholds the rule of Law and human rights. The IDF are known for their stringent operational protocols designed to minimize civilian casualties, even when confronting adversaries who disregard the Laws of war.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operate under a stringent code of conduct adhering to International Humanitarian Law, as outlined in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols. Each military operation is meticulously planned to minimize civilian damage. Measures such as warnings and precision strikes are fundamental to their efforts to protect civilians, even as Hamas employs tactics that blatantly contravene international norms, such as using civilian infrastructure for military purposes.

Israel’s military operations are conducted in accordance with the principles of proportionality and necessity. The IDF’s responses to terrorist attacks serve not only as a means of National defense, but also as a moral imperative to safeguard its citizens. The IDF’s actions are commensurate with the threats faced, aimed at neutralizing Hamas’s military capabilities, and preventing the possibility of any future attacks. Nonetheless, it is concerning that the ICC appears to overlook these circumstances, perpetuating a narrative that unfairly vilifies Israel while minimizing or excusing the atrocities committed by Hamas.

By equating Israel’s defensive measures with the actions of Hamas, an internationally designated terrorist organization, the ICC shows a troubling lack of impartiality. Hamas has indiscriminately launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian populations, using tactics that egregiously violate International Humanitarian Law. They exploit Gaza’s civilian population as human shields, store weapons in schools and hospitals, and execute political dissidents, actions that are not only illegal, but also morally reprehensible. Comparing these atrocities to the actions of a Democratic State exercising its right to self-defense is a profound misrepresentation of reality and a display of political proclivity.

It is noteworthy to remark that Article 51 of the United Nations Charter recognizes the inherent right of states to self-defense. Israel is a sovereign State, Hamas is certainly not. As a member of the UN, Israel has the undeniable right to defend its population from external attacks just like the one that occurred on October 7th, 2023. The military operations in Gaza have been carried out with this clear and justified purpose and only targeted toward proven terrorist infrastructure. The efforts of the ICC to classify these actions as unlawful not only undermine a fundamental right, but also communicate a perilous message to other democratic Nations confronting similar threats. Regardless, it appears that this endeavor employs international Law as a mean to propagate antisemitism.

Created by ChatGPT with DALL-E, 2024.

Correspondingly, article 8 of the Rome Statute delineates war crimes as encompassing “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities“. It is imperative to note that Israel has implemented exceptional measures to prevent such transgressions. Prior to conducting strikes in densely populated areas, the IDF issues warnings to civilians to evacuate, employing methods such as throwing pamphlets from airplanes, making thousands of phone calls, sending out text messages, and the roof knocking technique, which involves the deployment of non-explosive munitions to alert residents of impending airstrike. These measures surpass international requirements by a lot and underscore Israel’s unwavering commitment to mitigating civilian casualties, even when confronting an adversary that utilizes its masses as human shields.

The ICC’s failure to take decisive action against Hamas, and Hamas exclusively, may be interpreted as implicit support for their terrorist methods. It is clear that by not adequately addressing the war crimes committed by the jihadist organization and including Israel in the accusations for political reasons only, the ICC effectively allows this radical group to continue operating with impunity, prioritizing public acceptance over the rule of Law. These actions perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region and undermine international efforts to combat terrorism. The International Community must demand that the ICC fulfills its mandate impartially and justly, focusing on providing the legal foundation for dismantling the terrorist networks that perpetuate conflict and suffering.

Furthermore, the ICC’s decision to pursue war crimes charges against Netanyahu and Gallant may have adverse effects on peace and stability in the region. Israel’s commitment to peace is evident through its historic agreements with Egypt, Jordan, and several Arab States under the Abraham Accords. Nevertheless, the decision by the ICC to criminalize Israeli leaders undermines these efforts and empowers religious extremists who oppose peaceful coexistence but have significant resources to advance their cause. The actions of the ICC also align with antisemitism and hinder international cooperation in combating radical Islam and human rights violations, such a legal precedent could be highly hazardous. Moreover, the ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants against Israeli leaders erodes confidence in International Institutions. The ICC was established to be an impartial and just institution seeking accountability for the most serious crimes, but by displaying clear bias in this case, it undermines its credibility and legitimacy. States that once relied on the ICC to deliver justice may begin to question its impartiality and, ultimately, its relevance.

Criticism of the ICC is not a recent development. Since its establishment, the ICC has been the subject of accusations regarding bias and its potential use as a political instrument. For example, in the case of Sudan, the ICC’s issuance of an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir in 2009 was widely criticized for its adverse impact on peace efforts in the region and for creating the perception that the ICC was being utilized for political ends. Similarly, in 2017, the ICC encountered criticism for its decision not to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, including those attributed to US forces, which some interpreted as a response to political pressure from the United States. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, censured the ICC for its perceived disproportionate focus on Israel while seemingly neglecting other significant human rights violations globally. These instances underscore the perception that the ICC frequently demonstrates bias and is influenced by political agendas, thereby undermining its credibility and legitimacy as an impartial institution of international justice.

The negative impact of the ICC’s actions extends beyond Israel. The International Community, including the European Union and the United States, has expressed concern over the ICC’s apparent lack of impartiality. The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, has condemned the arrest warrant requests as outrageous, emphasizing that there is no equivalence between the actions of a democratic state and those of a terrorist organization. This reaction underscores the need for the ICC to reevaluate its approach and ensure that its actions are perceived as fair and equitable.

Created by ChatGPT with DALL-E, 2024.

Since its inception, the ICC has faced accusations of bias and being used as a political tool. This case against Israel is merely the latest example of how the ICC can be perceived as aligning with certain political agendas rather than seeking impartial justice. To maintain its credibility, the ICC must ensure that its actions are consistent with its mandate for impartial justice and are not influenced by political pressures.

The ICC must also consider the obligations and responsibilities of states under international humanitarian Law. Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions establishes that “combatants are obliged to distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack. Recognizing, however, that there are situations in armed conflicts where, owing to the nature of the hostilities an armed combatant cannot so distinguish himself, he shall retain his status as a combatant, provided that, in such situations, he carries his arms openly“. Israel has rigorously adhered to this principle, despite the inherent difficulties of fighting a terrorist enemy that does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

It is important to highlight that while Israel is subject to ongoing international scrutiny and adheres to international humanitarian Law, Hamas consistently violates these regulations. Under article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is strictly forbidden to impose collective punishments and, under articles 28 and 49 of the same regulation, the use of human shields is strictly outlawed, both of which are tactics routinely employed by Hamas. Regrettably, the ICC has remained conspicuously silent on these transgressions, leading to inquiries regarding its dedication to impartial justice.

The actions of the ICC in seeking arrest warrants against Israeli leaders are not only perceived as unjust and politically motivated but also appear to tacitly endorse a terrorist organization. Israel, as a sovereign state and the sole democracy in the Middle East, bears the right and responsibility to safeguard its citizens against existential threats. The IDF operate with a steadfast commitment to international humanitarian Law, and their actions are deemed a legitimate and proportionate response to the terrorist threats posed by Hamas.

It is imperative for the International Community to acknowledge the intricate nature of the conflict and lend support to Israel’s endeavors to protect its populace while striving for a peaceful resolution. Regrettably, the ICC’s actions have the effect of undermining the pursuit of justice and peace by exhibiting evident bias and a lack of comprehension of the context within which Israel operates. It is of utmost importance that international justice be applied with impartiality, and that terrorist organizations are prevented from exploiting these mechanisms to advance their destructive agendas.

Defending Israel embodies a dedication to principles of justice, legality, and morality that should inform the actions of the International Community. By safeguarding its citizens and adhering to international Law, Israel demonstrates its unwavering commitment to these principles and warrants the support and comprehension of the global Community in its fight against terrorism and its quest for peace and security.

About the Author
Lawyer, Law School Profesor, Zionist activist, and writer, specializing in the geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East. His work, published in various esteemed journals, focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, offering in-depth analyses that blend historical, legal, and ethical insights. Known for his ability to unravel complex geopolitical issues, he provides insightful and nuanced viewpoints on contemporary challenges in the region.
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