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Mosad’s chief threatened ex-ICC prosecutor to prevent war crimes probe: Report

Mosad’s chief threatened ex-ICC prosecutor to prevent war crimes probe: Report

In a revelation, it has been disclosed that Yossi Cohen, the former head of Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, orchestrated a covert campaign to influence the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), allegedly threatening her to persuade her to abandon a war crimes investigation against Israel, reportedly on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The details, emerging from a collaborative investigation by The Guardian, +972 Magazine, and Local Call, and published by the Guardian, shed light on a nearly decade-long effort by Israeli intelligence agencies to undermine the ICC.

Cohen's clandestine contacts with Fatou Bensouda, then prosecutor of the ICC, occurred before she decided to open a formal investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. The operation, reportedly authorized at a high level within the Israeli government, aimed to dissuade Bensouda from pursuing the investigation, fearing potential prosecutions against Israeli military personnel for the war crimes in Palestine.

The Mossad's involvement in the operation against the ICC, led by Cohen himself, highlights the extent to which Israel went to protect its interests amidst mounting international scrutiny, the report said. Cohen, one of Netanyahu's closest allies, became a central figure in the campaign, personally engaging with Bensouda to sway her decision-making.

Bensouda's disclosures to a small group of senior ICC officials revealed Cohen's persistent attempts to influence her. These efforts ranged from coercion to subtle intimidation tactics, including veiled threats to her security and that of her family. Such behaviour, experts note, could potentially constitute offences against the administration of justice under the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

The Mossad's interest extended beyond Bensouda herself, with reports indicating surveillance and attempts to gather compromising information on her family members. Despite these efforts, Israel's attempts to discredit Bensouda and undermine the ICC's investigation ultimately failed to sway international opinion or disrupt the pursuit of justice.

Joseph Kabila, the former president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was implicated as a supporting figure in Cohen's operation against Bensouda. Details surrounding Kabila's involvement remain murky, raising questions about the extent of collaboration between Israeli intelligence and foreign actors in the campaign against the ICC, according to the report.

The revelation of Mossad's covert campaign comes at a critical juncture for the ICC, as the court seeks to assert its authority in addressing alleged atrocities in Palestine. Efforts to intimidate or influence ICC officials, legal experts argue, threaten the integrity and credibility of the international justice system, undermining efforts to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable, the report suggested.

Bensouda's decision to proceed with the investigation despite pressure from Israel underscores the ICC's commitment to impartiality and adherence to the rule of law. Her departure from the ICC, succeeded by Karim Khan, has raised questions about the continuity of the investigation and the potential for external interference in the pursuit of justice.

Israel's dismissal of the allegations as "false and unfounded" reflects the country's longstanding opposition to the ICC's jurisdiction in Palestinian territories. However, the collaborative investigation's findings cast doubt on Israel's claims, highlighting the extent of its covert operations to thwart the ICC's efforts.

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TAGS:ICCInternational Criminal CourtIsrael War on GazaIsrael Palestine Conflict.Mosad
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