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List of Israeli Targets Leaked: Tel Aviv Fears the Worst in ICC Investigation of War Crimes

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | July 29, 2020

When International Court of Justice (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, confirmed last December that the Court has ample evidence to pursue a war crimes investigation in occupied Palestine, the Israeli government responded with the usual rhetoric, accusing the international community of bias and insisting on Israel’s ‘right to defend itself.’

Beneath the platitudes and typical Israeli discourse, the Israeli government knew too well that an ICC investigation into war crimes in Palestine could be quite costly. An investigation, in itself, represents an indictment of sorts. If Israeli individuals were to be indicted for war crimes, that is a different story, as it becomes a legal obligation of ICC members to apprehend the criminals and hand them over to the Court.

Israel remained publicly composed, even after Bensouda, last April, elaborated on her December decision with a 60-page legal report, titled: “Situation in the State of Palestine: Prosecution Response to the Observations of Amici Curiae, Legal Representatives of Victims, and States.”

In the report, the ICC addressed many of the questions, doubts and reports submitted or raised in the four months that followed her earlier decision. Countries such as Germany and Austria, among others, had used their position as amici curiae – ‘friends of the court’ – to question the ICC jurisdiction and the status of Palestine as a country.

Bensouda insisted that “the Prosecutor is satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, and that the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza (“Occupied Palestinian Territory”).”

However, Bensouda did not provide definitive timelines to the investigation; instead, she requested that the ICC’S Pre-Trial Chamber “confirm the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in Palestine,” an additional step that is hardly required since the State of Palestine, a signatory of the Rome Statute, is the one that actually referred the case directly to the Prosecutor’s office.

The April report, in particular, was the wake-up call for Tel Aviv. Between the initial decision in December till the release of the latter report, Israel lobbied on many fronts, enlisting the help of ICC members and recruiting its greatest benefactor, Washington – which is not an ICC member – to bully the Court so it may reverse its decision.

On May 15, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, warned the ICC against pursuing the investigation, targeting Bensouda, in particular, for her decision to hold war criminals in Palestine accountable.

The US slapped unprecedented sanctions against the ICC on June 11, with President Donald Trump issuing an ‘executive order’ that authorizes the freezing of assets and a travel ban against ICC officials and their families. The order also allows for the punishing of other individuals or entities that assist the ICC in its investigation.

Washington’s decision to carry out punitive measures against the very Court that was established for the sole purpose of holding war criminals accountable is both outrageous and abhorrent. It also exposes Washington’s hypocrisy – the country that claims to defend human rights is attempting to prevent legal accountability by those who have violated human rights.

Upon its failure to halt the ICC legal procedures regarding its investigation of war crimes, Israel began to prepare for the worst. On July 15, Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, reported about a ‘secret list’ that was drawn up by the Israeli government. The list includes “between 200 and 300 officials”, ranging from politicians to military and intelligence officials, who are subject to arrest abroad, should the ICC officially open the war crimes investigation.

Names begin at the top of the Israeli political pyramid, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his current coalition partner, Benny Gantz.

The sheer number of Israeli officials on the list is indicative of the scope of the ICC’s investigation, and, somehow, is a self-indictment, as the names include former Israeli Defense Ministers – Moshe Ya’alon, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett; current and former army chiefs of staffs – Aviv Kochavi, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot and current and former heads of internal intelligence, the Shin Bet – Nadav Argaman and Yoram Cohen.

Respected international human rights organizations have already, repeatedly, accused all these individuals of serious human rights abuses during Israel’s lethal wars on the besieged Gaza Strip, starting with the so-called ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-9.

But the list is far more extensive, as it covers “people in much more junior positions, including lower-ranking military officers and, perhaps, even officials involved in issuing various types of permits to settlements and settlement outposts.”

Israel, thus, fully appreciates the fact that the international community still insists that the construction of illegal colonies in occupied Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the transfer of Israeli citizens to occupied land are all inadmissible under international law and tantamount to war crimes. Netanyahu must be disappointed to learn that all of Washington’s concessions to Israel under Trump’s presidency have failed to alter the position of the international community and the applicability of international law in any way.

Furthermore, it would not be an exaggeration to argue that Tel Aviv’s postponement of its plan to illegally annex nearly a third of the West Bank is directly linked to the ICC’s investigation, for the annexation would have completely thwarted Israel’s friends’ efforts aimed at preventing the investigation from ever taking place.

While the whole world, especially Palestinians, Arabs and their allies, still anxiously await the final decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber, Israel will continue its overt and covert campaign to intimidate the ICC and any other entity that aims to expose Israeli war crimes and to try Israeli war criminals.

Washington, too, will continue to strive to ensure Netanyahu, Gantz, and the “200 to 300” other Israeli officials never see their day in court.

However, the fact that a “secret list” exists is an indication that Tel Aviv understands that this era is different and that international law, which has failed Palestinians for over 70 years, may, for once, deliver, however a small measure of justice.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU).

July 29, 2020 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , ,

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  1. THE ISRAELI ASSASSINS

    “DANGEROUS LIAISON: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE U.S.- ISRAELI COVERT RELATIONSHIP by Andrew Cockburn/Leslie Cockbure
    Brian Lamb:
    Leslie Cockburn, what was the most interesting part of writing this book?

    Leslie Cockburn
    THE INSIDE STORY OF THE U.S.-ISRAELI COVERT RELATIONSHIP”:
    There are a number of things. For example, one particular part which I found most interesting was we talk about Israeli operations in Colombia and some of the Israeli commandos who trained the hit squads of the Medellin cartel. It turns out that they had trained us in Israel as well when they were between trips to Colombia. These were the same people who also trained most of the top commanders in the Guatemalan military and also trained the Contras. They had a firm that was under license to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and then they’d turn up in the jungles of Puerto Boyac in Colombia. So, we had a lot of adventures, I must say.
    Someone said to us,
    “Do you know what the function of the Jerusalem Post is?”
    We said, “What?”
    He said, “It’s to give the American ambassador a happy breakfast.”
    So they’re very conscious of, “Hebrew is for us and English is for everyone else.” We also found with books and also some diaries and documents there was a treasure trove. The Israelis, of course, are good at keeping secrets. It’s not like they spill everything out and they have to have a freedom of information. But there is still a wealth of detail and information and color and a lot of what you need to know to understand the connection we’re talking about in Hebrew.

    Brian Lamb:
    How did you get it translated? Was it expensive?

    Andrew Cockburn
    Yes, but we thought it was worth the investment.

    Brian Lamb:
    Can you give us an example of something that you learned that was in Hebrew that we never saw in English?

    Andrew Cockburn
    Sure. The ’67 war, for example. The people’s general view of the 1967 war was all the Arabs sort of ganged up on Israel and may have even attacked Israel and the Israelis fought them off and won the great victory which got them the West Bank that people are arguing about today.
    In fact, let me give you a quick background. Let me put it this way:
    We found a book of memoirs written by a guy who was the military aide to the then-prime minister of Israel. It was a guy called Israel Lior. He gives an account in this book which has never been translated into English. It’s available only in Hebrew; in fact, wasn’t even a bestseller there. He gives an account how on June 3, 1967 — two days before the war broke out — he was at the home of the prime minister and they were waiting for the head of Mossad to come back from Washington. The head of Mossad had been sent to Washington to get permission, to get the green light, to launch the war. He explains, “We knew we could win” — he’s explained already in the book –
    “The generals were hot to go. They weren’t really scared of the Egyptians or anyone else, but they wanted to go ahead with this and the prime minister had been saying, ‘No, we can’t do it. We can’t attack until we have American permission.'”

    Andrew Cockburn:
    He gives this very vivid description of how Meir Amit, the head of Mossad, comes back into the room at midnight. The high command is sitting around, and this being an Israeli meeting the air is thick with cigarette smoke. Amit walks back in and they say,
    “Well, what is it? Is it war or no war? Will they let us go?”
    Amit says,
    “Well, I’ve been given to understand, the Americans have told me that they will bless us if we crush Nassar, and that’s it.”

    They started the war on Monday morning. He’d been to Washington and he’d seen Richard Helms, the head of the CIA, and a very few other very senior officials, also including, certainly, James Jesus Angleton, and they got permission to do it. So that was something that had never been in English. Once you’ve read that, you understand that things are a bit different from the kind of histories you read in English.

    Brian Lamb:

    JAMES JESUS ANGLETON

    You tell a story early in the book — you know, I’ve never heard anyone pronounce his full name so I don’t even know if this is right — James Jesus Angleton — or do they call him Jesus [pronounces Hesus]?

    Andrew Cockburn:
    Although it should be Jesus [Hesus] because that was in recognition of the Mexican half of his family, everyone always pronounced it Jesus.

    Brian Lamb:
    You tell an early story about a monument to him near Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust. Explain that story.

    Andrew Cockburn:
    Right. Well, if you’re going on the outskirts of Jerusalem on the western side at least, you have Yad Vashem, which is the very moving memorial to the Holocaust. If you take the road past there out of town, you down the hill and you wind through a pretty village and eventually come to what’s called the Jerusalem Forest, which is full of memorial groves, if you like, to people who get honored in this way — war heros or simply people who have been killed in war or people recognized by the state of Israel.

    We were driving through this one day, and the reason we were doing this was we were looking for the memorial grove, memorial forest, to James Jesus Angleton. Angleton was a CIA man, a senior CIA official, very famous for a number of reasons but he was of interest to us because he was the link for many years between the CIA and the Mossad. The Israelis had all said to us, his old intelligence friends had said, “Oh, yes, we love Jim and Jim was a good friend to Israel and we liked Jim a lot. In fact, after he died” — which was in 1987 — “we created a memorial forest for him. It’s out there. I suppose it’s a bit hard to find. You might not want to look for it, but I can tell you that it’s there.” So, we thought we would go and take a look. We drove out, and there were all these nice groves with nice plaques carved in stone to various people, and we can’t find the Angleton memorial.

    Eventually we decided to give up, thinking we had taken the wrong direction or something. We were looking for a place to turn and there is an open space, or it looks like an open space, and we drive up, but it isn’t. It’s basically a garbage dump with a few stunted, dying little trees poking up and a plaque actually on plastic screwed to the stone to James Jesus Angleton. So this was the memorial forest. It’s kind of hard to explain, but in a way it was an Israeli joke. It was, “Look, we’re supposed to like you a lot. We’re supposed to owe you a lot, but we don’t owe anyone anything, so here’s what we really think of you,” and it’s a garbage dump.

    Brian Lamb:
    Mr. Angleton is dead?

    Andrew Cockburn:
    He is dead but not forgotten.
    Brian Lamb:
    Isn’t there a new book just out about him?

    Andrew Cockburn:
    Yes, but it doesn’t really go into the Israeli side, which is what interests us. Angleton did a number of things. He’s been most written about because he was head of CIA counter-intelligence and got obsessed about a Soviet mole in the CIA. Although that may be the most publicized role he had, he did other things, too, and his most important job really — and this is the role that the agency has always been very keen to obscure. In fact, they prevented one former colleague of his in the agency from writing a book about him because they said, “Oh, my God, if he writes that book, he’ll talk about this particular job,” which was Angleton’s role as a liaison with foreign intelligence services, including the Israelis — particularly the Israelis, in fact. This was an absolutely key role. There’s a lot of bodies buried there. What Angleton was able to do were things the CIA couldn’t do or didn’t want to be seen doing or wanted to do in this country, in which it’s legally precluded from doing. As liaison, Angleton could go to his buddies in foreign intelligence services, and particularly the Israelis, and say, “Help us out.” Angleton was really the point man for the connection that we explain in the book.

    Brian Lamb:
    What would happen if all American aid to Israel was stopped and the Israelis had to shut down their arms business? What would happen to that country?

    Leslie Cockburn:
    It would be a disaster.

    Brian Lamb:
    Why?

    Leslie Cockburn:
    Because the arms business is the engine that drives the economy of Israel. It’s the biggest export. At this point it’s such a huge part of the economy that they have to continue shipping arms, which is one reason why you get a situation where they’re shipping all over the world, and particularly unattractive situations like shipping to South Africa. So it’s all driven by money, by the desperate need to keep this business going. People will say to you, “Well, we had to go into the arms business in a big way because we wanted to become self-sufficient because there’s always the possibility of a next war.” But, in fact, because they’re very military-aid dependent on the U.S., what’s happened is that they’re more and more dependent on American components, on American research and development and hardly self-sufficient.
    There is another element to that which is they have this huge arms industry that they have to keep going and is the major provider of employment in the country, especially of well-paying jobs. Their market, as wars are tailing off around the world, they see as their principal future growth market the Pentagon here. They’re becoming, or trying to be, in fact, more dependent on getting more business out of the U.S. military, which certainly doesn’t make them self-sufficient. If your economy depends on selling stuff to the Pentagon or tending that way, then that makes that connection even greater.

    But there’s also on the intelligence side of things — when I say their need for this military industry is desperate, you have a whole intelligence branch that was set up called LAKAM to get high-tech military technology around the world by any means, and that includes stealing it. So you’ve had a lot of cases over the years of LAKAM operations, including in this country, going around to different companies and getting a hold of the blueprints and carting away boxes to bring back to Tel Aviv, because they have to say ahead of the curve.

    Brian Lamb:
    Do the Israelis lie to the public?

    Leslie Cockburn:
    In talking about this kind of stuff — covert operations, national security subjects — there is censorship in Israel. So a lot of these things can’t even be discussed. We talk about in the book the Israeli nuclear program and break some ground on this. We talk about the Israeli chain of command, that it takes the prime minister, the head of Mossad and the defense minister to make the decision to push the nuclear button.

    Brian Lamb:
    Is this the nuclear facility at Dimona?

    Leslie Cockburn:
    That’s correct.

    Brian Lamb:
    Is that the only nuclear facility they have?

    Leslie Cockburn:
    It’s an enormous nuclear facility. But what we’ve discovered . . .

    Brian Lamb:
    Did you try to go there?

    Leslie Cockburn:
    Oh, I’ve been to Dimona, yes.

    Brian Lamb
    Inside?
    Leslie Cockburn
    No, no, no. That’s very difficult.

    Brian Lamb:
    Where is it?

    Leslie Cockburn
    It’s down in the Negev. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, and what happens is when you go to Dimona, if you happen to stop the car and take a picture of it or film it or whatever, you’re out of there very quickly. One defense intelligence agency friend of ours said that he had more flat tires in front of Dimona than anywhere else in Israel. But what we also have discovered was that Israel not only has nuclear weapons, but sophisticated tactical nuclear weapons just like we do. Remember the American Army used to have nuclear land mines, for example, all over Germany.

    Well, the Israelis, we’ve discovered, have nuclear land mines seated on the Golan Heights and at one point Ariel Sharon, who is, of course, famous for the invasion of Lebanon and whatnot, went to [Menachem] Begin and said, “Look, you’re busy,” and had a terrible relationship at the time with the chief of Mossad. He wanted to take over sole control of the nuclear button, and Begin, fortunately, said no. But this kind of thing — I mean this is why the Israelis have gone wild for the book and they’ve serialized it in Ma’ariv and written about it in Ha’aretz because they can’t talk about this sort of stuff unless it’s been printed abroad before.

    Brian Lamb:
    Ma’ariv and Ha’aretz are what?

    Leslie Cockburn
    They’re two very large Israeli papers. Ha’aretz is the kind of New York Times of Israel and Ma’ariv is the conservative paper.

    Brian Lamb:
    You point out in your book that one of the things you did differently with this book is you’ve had a lot of translations of a lot of Hebrew in Israeli newspapers. Why?

    Andrew Cockburn
    Because there’s an amazing amount of information that appears in Hebrew — the Israelis feel comfortable about this because if it’s in Hebrew it’s like it’s among themselves — that doesn’t get translated into English.

    They are very conscious of the feeling that Hebrew is like a code. Not many people outside Israel actually speak it. So if you can say something in Hebrew, it’s almost like saying it in secret. We discovered that, for instance, the Hebrew press in Israel is very, very good, and there are a lot of good journalists. There are very good newspapers. An amazing amount of information that never finds its way into the dispatches of foreign correspondents from Israel, very few of whom actually speak Hebrew, nor does it appear in the English-language Israeli papers like the Jerusalem Post.

    Someone said to us,
    “Do you know what the function of the Jerusalem Post is?”
    We said, “What?”
    He said, “It’s to give the American ambassador a happy breakfast.”

    So they’re very conscious of, “Hebrew is for us and English is for everyone else.” We also found with books and also some diaries and documents there was a treasure trove. The Israelis, of course, are good at keeping secrets. It’s not like they spill everything out and they have to have a freedom of information. But there is still a wealth of detail and information and color and a lot of what you need to know to understand the connection we’re talking about in Hebrew.

    Brian Lamb:
    How did you get it translated? Was it expensive?

    Andrew Cockburn
    Yes, but we thought it was worth the investment.

    Brian Lamb:
    Can you give us an example of something that you learned that was in Hebrew that we never saw in English?

    Andrew Cockburn
    Sure. The ’67 war, for example. The people’s general view of the 1967 war was all the Arabs sort of ganged up on Israel and may have even attacked Israel and the Israelis fought them off and won the great victory which got them the West Bank that people are arguing about today.

    In fact, let me give you a quick background. Let me put it this way:
    We found a book of memoirs written by a guy who was the military aide to the then-prime minister of Israel. It was a guy called Israel Lior. He gives an account in this book which has never been translated into English. It’s available only in Hebrew; in fact, wasn’t even a bestseller there. He gives an account how on June 3, 1967 — two days before the war broke out — he was at the home of the prime minister and they were waiting for the head of Mossad to come back from Washington. The head of Mossad had been sent to Washington to get permission, to get the green light, to launch the war. He explains, “We knew we could win” — he’s explained already in the book –

    “The generals were hot to go. They weren’t really scared of the Egyptians or anyone else, but they wanted to go ahead with this and the prime minister had been saying, ‘No, we can’t do it. We can’t attack until we have American permission.'”

    Andrew Cockburn:
    He gives this very vivid description of how Meir Amit, the head of Mossad, comes back into the room at midnight. The high command is sitting around, and this being an Israeli meeting the air is thick with cigarette smoke. Amit walks back in and they say,
    “Well, what is it? Is it war or no war? Will they let us go?”

    Amit says,
    “Well, I’ve been given to understand, the Americans have told me that they will bless us if we crush Nassar, and that’s it.”

    They started the war on Monday morning. He’d been to Washington and he’d seen Richard Helms, the head of the CIA, and a very few other very senior officials, also including, certainly, James Jesus Angleton, and they got permission to do it. So that was something that had never been in English. Once you’ve read that, you understand that things are a bit different from the kind of histories you read in English.

    PLANT A TREE

    An “age-old ritual” for American Jews who visit Israel is to pay the Jewish National Fund $10 and plant a tree in honor or memory of a friend or relative. Preying on diaspora sentiment, it is a $50 million-per year business. In 2000 it was discovered by the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that workers at the popular Jerusalem planting site “cynically uproot the saplings planted by tourists to make way for the new day’s busloads.” [SONTAG, D., 7-3-2000, p. A4]

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Dave Rubin | July 29, 2020 | Reply


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