The ICC’s chief prosecutor announced on March 3 that she had opened a full investigation into the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, infuriating Israel, which not a member of The Hague-based court.
The ICC sent a deferral notice on March 9, giving Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) a month to inform judges whether they are investigating crimes similar to those being probed by the ICC.
Had Israel informed the court that it was in fact carrying out its own probe into alleged war crimes perpetrators, it could have asked for a deferral.
Ahead of the deadline, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying the government had agreed “to not cooperate” with the ICC.
“The state of Israel is committed to the rule of law… and expects the court to refrain from violating its sovereignty and authority,” the statement reads.
The world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal, the ICC was set up in 2002 to try humanity’s worst crimes where local courts are unwilling or unable to step in.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said her probe will cover the situation since 2014 in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
After a five-year preliminary probe, Bensouda said there was a “reasonable basis” to believe crimes were committed by both sides — by the Israeli military, Hamas Islamists who have controlled Gaza since 2007 and Palestinian armed groups.