How should Israel respond to the International Criminal Court’s “special announcement” last Friday that it intends to open a preliminary inquiry into charges that the IDF committed war crimes this past summer during Operation Protective Edge? Should it laugh or cry? Should it testify in the hope of getting a fair hearing or stay away so as not to lend credence to the preposterous charges?
The first, most obvious reaction was to condemn the move. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu correctly called it “the height of hypocrisy and the opposite of justice.” Proving his point, as if any proof were necessary, was the joyous reaction of the Palestinians. “This is wonderful news,” said a Palestinian official. “We see this as a positive step toward achieving justice for the Palestinian nation.”
But should Israel send witnesses to Europe to testify? Is there any point in trying to reason with the chief prosecutor, Fatou B. Bensouda, a Muslim from Gambia? After all, let’s consider the evidence.
Israel suffered thousands of missiles aimed at its civilian population and gave every possible opportunity to Hamas to desist from firing in order to avoid a military response. Israel’s air force has numerous films of missions being scrapped at the last minute when pilots spotted civilians near the area of the target and feared harming them. IDF commanders were in constant consultation with military lawyers, who had final say over the execution of every ground operation.
Moreover, in the rare cases when IDF soldiers may have overstepped their bounds, they are being subject to trial in Israel and, in some cases, to prison sentences. It is infuriating to most Israelis that soldiers who risked their lives and acted in extremely difficult conditions should be tried for such actions, but that is the reality.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, have no law and order, not during wartime and not during peace. They don’t hit civilian targets in Israel inadvertently, but fire on them deliberately. It is a fact that they hid missiles and weapons in U.N. schools and hospitals — verified by international media sources who aren’t particularly fond of Israel — and that Hamas used men, women and children as human shields.
Israel honored ceasefires, while Hamas didn’t, leading to the death of three outstanding soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was kidnapped and secreted into a tunnel, Maj. Benaya Sarel, 26, a young father from Kiryat Arba, and 1st.-Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Yerushalayim, Hy”d.
When Israel inadvertently kills Palestinian children, the local media mourns the deaths and questions whether every possible step was taken to avoid such tragedies. When the Palestinians succeed in striking Jews, the media hails the attackers as heroes and civilians dance in the street and distribute sweets.
Frankly, it’s not even a close call. The very suggestion that the ICC is opening a “preliminary investigation” to determine whether there is enough proof to try Israel reveals bias and ill intent, to put it kindly. Putting the victim on trial is a prize to the aggressor that only encourages more aggression.
Subjecting victims of Palestinian violence to the humiliation of pouring their hearts out so that “judges” can pretend to listen and then find Israel guilty is wrong.
During the years that Hamodia ran its “Profiles in Courage” series on terror victims, we interviewed Arnold Roth, the father of Malkie, Hy”d, who was murdered in the Sbarro restaurant bombing. An immigrant from Australia, Mr. Roth put his fluent English to work trying to bring the story of Palestinian terrorism, and its devastating effects, to Europe and elsewhere.
In the interview, he recounted a visit to Brussels, where a delegation of family members of terror victims arrived together with a bombed-out bus, to show the impact of Palestinian violence.
Mr. Roth was politely received by senior members of parliament, but could feel that people were simply going through the motions. They nodded along, but weren’t listening to a word.
Finally, one senior member of parliament has mercy on him and told him the score: “Do you know what the No. 1 boy’s name given to babies in Belgium is? Muhammed. That’s the whole story.” The politicians in Europe know who they have to win over and cannot afford to alienate.
Israel, as a government and as a people, should have nothing to do with the farce that calls itself the International Criminal Court. Instead, it should turn to its allies, those like the United States who pay the ICC’s bills, and seek to pressure the organization to desist from pursuing a blatant injustice that undermines its reason to exist.