More than 180 Israelis, including 10 Israel Prize laureates, 35 professors, senior reserve officers, writers, intellectuals, left-wing activists, and researchers, on Thursday sent a letter to Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian Chief Prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal (until June 15), warning her not to believe the Israeli authorities regarding the investigation of war crimes.
“We wish to express at this early stage our deepest suspicion, based on past experience, that the State of Israel, including its investigative and legal institutions, do not intend to seriously investigate complaints about war crimes,” the letter says (the text here is a translation from the Hebrew version). “Our suspicion is supported by a very large number of documented cases which allegedly relate to war crimes committed by Israel in the Occupied Territories in complete violation of international law. Most of these cases were not investigated at all, and a few of them ended in acquittal following a superficial and inappropriate investigation.”
“The numerous acts of discrimination, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, expropriation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements, arbitrary collective punishments, unjustified arrests including long-term administrative detention and illegal incarceration in prisons outside the Occupied Territories, repeated invasions of private homes and villages, extensive damage to homes and other vital structures, denial of access to basic necessities such as water, denial of residential permits, denial of access to Palestinian privately owned fields and pastures, and the serious failure of military courts to provide even a semblance of justice,” the letter continues.
The signatories would like to help the prosecutor, saying, “Many of us are in contact with human rights organizations and activists operating in Israel and Palestine, and the extensive documentation in their possession may contribute to the work of the International Criminal Court.”
The signatories conclude: “Unfortunately, despite the image of Israel as a state that maintains a professional and worthy legal system, the reality paints a different picture – difficult, discriminatory and outrageous. The law imposed on the Occupied Territories and the manner in which it is implemented by the Israeli law enforcement and security authorities in effect allow for ongoing moral injustice and alleged war crimes.”
The Israel Prize winners who signed the letter are Nola Chelton, Ohad Naharin, Prof. Avishai Margalit, Prof. Yosef Kaplan, Prof. Benjamin Isaac, Prof. Yoram Bilu, Prof. Ram Levy, Prof. Menachem Yaari, Prof. Jad Ne’eman, and Prof. David Shulman. Among the other signatories are author Tzruya Lahav, and former Open University President Prof. Kobi Metzar,