Israeli NGO campaigns for Haniyeh, Abbas ICC trials

"We at Shurat HaDin are collecting testimonies of every person who was hurt by Palestinian terror," group says in Facebook appeal.

April 17, 2013 06:19
3 minute read.
International Criminal Court in The Hague

ICC 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Shurat HaDin recently announced a legal campaign on Facebook “doing terror to terror” to deter the Palestinians from filing complaints against Israelis in the International Criminal Court.

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center said that the Palestinian Authority was recently recognized as a full state by the United Nations General Assembly and is now “threatening to bring soldiers and senior Israeli leaders to trial” before the ICC.

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A Shurat HaDin press release also said that, “We at Shurat HaDin, know that the real victims are actually the harmed Israelis. Therefore, we are initiating a preemptive strike and collecting testimonies of every person who was physically or emotionally hurt by Palestinian terror.”

In addition, the statement urged people to “write your testimonies on the wall, send pictures that you took of the incidents, join and ‘like’ our Facebook page. Together we will strengthen Israel.”

The Facebook page claimed to have 100 testimonies of victims after only the first day of posting and after only a few days had over 6,600 likes and a vibrant series of discussions of related issues.

Shurat HaDin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said that the cases being prepared would be against both Hamas leaders, like Ismail Haniyeh, and Palestinian Authority leaders, like President Mahmoud Abbas.

She said, “there is no difference between them. The second intifada was the policy of the PA, it was intentional and systematic terror.”

Leitner said that the PA had organized terror during the second intifada with “incitement to violence” from mosques and “funding terror,” including, “giving reward money to arrested Palestinian terrorists and sometimes to members of Hamas.”

Pressed about whether there was really any evidence against Abbas and the PA as strong as the evidence against Hamas leaders that sometimes publicly admit to firing rockets at civilians, Leitner supported her view saying that “a federal court in New York has found that terror during the intifada [allegedly perpetrated by PA operatives] was a crime against humanity.” She cited Amnesty International for criticizing PA acts during the second intifada as war crimes.

Asked about the phrase “doing terror to terror,” Leitner qualified the phrase a bit, noting that the slogan was playing off a well-known Hebrew phrase in which “terror” is used to indicate that someone else undermined or ambushed you.

According to that view, Leitner said that Abbas “did terror,” or undermined Israel at the UN with his drive for statehood, and his not-so-secret plans to use the statehood as a cudgel against Israel before the ICC.

Only countries formally considered to be “states” by the ICC can formally ask the ICC to investigate a case, and many saw Abbas’s statehood push as a way for the PA to have a better chance of getting the ICC to recognize it as a state.

One of the points of the slogan then, is essentially the biblical principle of measure for measure – that if the PA eventually decides to actively promote ICC cases against Israelis, Shurat HaDin will actively promote ICC cases against PA leaders.

But Leitner also said that the slogan was a serious one and that the regular PA threats to take Israeli soldiers and leader to the ICC “causes fear among IDF soldiers” and is designed to “deter them from defending Israeli civilians.”

In that sense, said Leitner, the barrage of ICC threats “hurts Israel’s ability to defend itself against terrorism” and empowers terrorists.

Leitner said that Shurat HaDin’s efforts had no connection to a complaint to the ICC against Hamas and Abbas by a single private Israeli law firm of Mordecai Tzivin in mid-March.

She added that Shurat HaDin’s work was much more concrete and specific and would include far more direct testimony than the law firm’s mid-March complaint.

Also, unlike the firm, which said it already filed a complaint to try to convince the ICC prosecutor to investigate Hamas and Abbas, Shurat HaDin will “hold its fire” and not file the cases as long as the PA also holds its fire.

Leitner added that the initiative was not coordinated with the government.

In fact, she said that there “has been no response from the state to Abu Mazen [Abbas],” and that a benefit of the Facebook campaign was that Shurat HaDin might be able to act in situations where the state felt constrained by external factors.

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