BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
The turn of the 21st century was marked by two contradictory events. The attacks of September 11, 2001, the starting point for an unprecedented military rampage leading to the destruction of entire countries under the pretext of the fight against terrorism; but also, unnoticed, the entry into operation of the first permanent criminal court for war crimes in April 2002. This was a tangible realisation of the peoples’ aspiration for more rights and justice, a silent protest by 60, then 123 countries against the strategy of chaos.
Twenty years later, as the most extreme violence continues to befall the peoples of the Middle East, and as retaliatory attacks continue in Europe, following a long but fruitful path the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced the opening of an investigation into crimes committed in the State of Palestine. A shock that makes the Israeli and American sides scream, and simultaneously astounds the victims, who find it hard to believe. The thunder of the bombs has for years been drowning out the discreet ticking of the metronome of law, which oscillates unflinchingly. The Israeli leaders are no longer the masters of the clock.
Christophe Oberlin, a privileged witness of Palestine on the ground for twenty years, and simultaneously familiar with the workings of the International Criminal Court, recounts here the bloody offensives on the Gaza Strip, the quiet accumulation of the most heinous crimes. «We know where every bullet landed,» says the official Israeli Defense Force spokesman. Does he suspect that each crime, duly documented, is being referred to the International Criminal Court? A relentless and confidential forensic work begun in 2014 that enables Palestinian victims, especially from the Gaza Strip, to be part of the investigation that will open in The Hague. At the same time, the Israeli defence is legally miserable. Supported by the United States, which is not a party to the ICC, the Brazil of Bolsonaro, Uganda, the Czech Republic and the Hungary of Orban, flanked by a few other affiliates, it is based on a single sentence: Palestine is not a sovereign state and cannot refer a case to the Court. «Of course it can,» replies the General Assembly of States Parties! For the first time since 1948, Israeli leaders are being called upon to defend themselves against accusations of the most serious crimes. The machine is on the move.
issue January 2021