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Israel faces escalating international legal battle, says Attorney General

Israel's Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit [Twitter]
Israel's Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit [Twitter]

Israel’s Attorney General expects Israel to face an escalating international legal battle in the near future, Safa news agency reported on Sunday. Avichai Mandelblit and his aide Gil Limon said in a joint article in Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday that the core of the battle will be the accusations that Israel is guilty of war crimes.

The legal experts said that Israel’s 2010 attack on the Freedom Flotilla in international waters and the killing of nine activists on board (a tenth died later of his wounds) is the main focus of the legal case against Israel. Describing the lawsuits filed at the International Criminal Court and other international bodies as a “strategic track”, they nevertheless believe that what are called Israeli crimes against the Palestinian resistance, are actually “anti-terror operations”.

“There is no other state subject to such a legal battle in relation to its operations like Israel,” they claimed. They admitted, however, that Israeli military operations in the past couples of years have led to this “powerful judicial battle”. Mandelblit and Limon insisted that taking the fight to Israel’s enemies is something that “democratic states which fight terror” should deal with.

Although they accepted that the Freedom Flotilla was aiming to break the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, they insisted that the hidden motive was “to undermine Israel’s image and create a base for international political and judicial pressure” against the state in order to end the siege and change its policy in Gaza. This “strategic” tactic, they said, is being fought in political and legal circles.

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Insisting that Israel is involved in a war against terrorism — and not legitimate resistance by people living under its military occupation — Mandelblit and his aide Gil Limon note that Israel recognises the importance of internal investigations into violations of the laws governing armed conflict, which “is the responsibility of a democratic state which faces terror.”

They stressed that Israel should carry out its own investigations and turn suspects over to its own courts. This, they point out, would prevent such issues being taken to the international courts and help Israel to mobilise support for its position, thus cancelling the jurisdiction of the ICC over Israel.

The Rome Statute, by which the ICC was founded, did not intend to make the court a tool for solving political conflicts or to be used against democratic states which have independent judicial authorities based on the principle of the rule of law.

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