Can the ICC Treat Israel Fairly?

As the Palestinian Authority prepares to take Israel or Israeli citizens to the International Criminal Court, some have argued that such a move will surely backfire. After all, Israel has scrupulously observed international laws, while Palestinians are guilty of numerous violations. Eugene Kontorovich, however, writes that the ICC’s deck is stacked against Israel, and not only because of an anti-Israel proviso in its founding statute:

Even absent any bias, the Court is structured in a way that cannot do equal justice, and is thus properly seen as a Palestinian tool against Israel. Moreover, recent statements by the [Court’s] prosecutor give troubling evidence that she may be willing to replace legal analysis with the off-the-shelf views of the “international community” on the conflict. . . .

[T]he Palestinians are so-to-speak “judgment proof.” First, non-cooperation is easy in a place where the killing of “collaborators” is institutionalized. . . . No one in Gaza will say, “Hey, there was a Hamas launcher in this school here.” Nor will the Palestinians be punished for non-cooperation—just as Kenya and Sudan have not been. Indeed, it is likely that the Palestinians will claim that as a “state under occupation,” they simply cannot cooperate with investigators on-the-ground since they will claim they are (for these purposes) under Israel’s thumb. In Israel, on the other hand, a bevy of Israeli NGOs will be lined up to supply the prosecutor with the dirt on alleged Israeli misdeeds, and many jurisdictions are only looking for an occasion to impose sanctions on Israel.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ICC, International Law, Israel, Lawfare, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority


The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas