Yes, you read the headline correctly. Just over a week ago I posted about the ICC’s illegal and anti-Israel move to reopen the case against Israel’s alleged war crimes committed during the Mavi Marmara fiasco.
We had a hint that things would not necessarily go the ICC’s way when Bensouda told the Times of Israel that the ICC “might not reopen the Mavi Marmara case”.
Some Israeli legal analysts said that this ruling leaves Bensouda no choice but to launch investigations not only into the flotilla case but also into Israel’s alleged crimes against Palestinians.
The judges’ decision “has wider implications for preliminary examinations by the prosecutor on Israeli-Palestinian issues,” Tel Aviv University’s international law expert Aeyal Gross wrote in Haaretz. “The decision will make it difficult for her not to investigate alleged war crimes by both sides in last summer’s Gaza war… Also, the decision might accelerate her launching of an investigation into construction in the settlements as well.”
But Bensouda — who in 2011 said that her Muslim faith “definitely” helped her in her job as prosecutor, since Islam is a religion of peace that provides her with “inner strength” and a “sense of justice” — insisted that she will be guided exclusively by the facts and what the law says about them.
The prosecutor’s office “will execute its mandate independently and impartially, based solely on the law,” Bensouda declared. Her office is currently conducting a preliminary examination into alleged Israeli offenses in the West Bank and Gaza and will in “due course” decide how to proceed, she said.
I must admit that when I read that Bensouda said her Muslim faith would guide her, my heart sank. But I apologize for doubting her motives.
And now, quite astonishingly, and against all the expectations of Israel supporters, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has rejected the order to reopen her investigation of the Mavi Marmara incident:
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Fatou Bensouda rejected an order for her to reconsider the decision to close her initial probe of the case and reopen the investigation into the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens aboard a Gaza blockade-busting ship in 2010.
In response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement, signaling approval of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to appeal the order by a three-judge panel to reconsider her closing of the investigation.
“The ICC never had any business to deal with this event to begin with,” an Israeli official said. “Israel acted out of self-defense according to international law.”
There was no official word from the ICC, but a document shared on Twitter and signed by Bensouda, calling for the probe to be closed, seemed to confirm the report.
Bensouda was asked earlier in July to reconsider her decision last year to close the probe, despite saying there was a possibility that war crimes were committed.
Comoros, under whose flag the Mavi Marmara was sailing, appealed Bensouda’s decision earlier this month, leading a pretrial chamber of three judges to state last Thursday that Bensouda “committed material errors” in her assessment of the case’s gravity.
Consequently, the judges ordered Bensouda to reconsider “as soon as possible” her decision not to proceed with a full investigation.
I wonder whether the judges’ accusation that she committed material errors in her original investigation put her back up and helped in her decision to reject their demand.
Whatever the reason I congratulate Fatou Bensouda on her wise decision. Let’s hope she will be a harbinger of better times to come for Israel in her fight against lawfare.