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Thursday, September 24, 2009

International Criminal Court may try IDF lawyer

As a result of the Goldstone Commission Report, the International Criminal Court is exploring the possibility of trying IDF reserve officer David Benjamin, a dual citizen of Israel and South Africa, for 'war crimes' allegedly committed during Operation Cast Lead.
A senior prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said Monday that he is considering opening an investigation into whether Lt. Col. David Benjamin, an Israel Defense Forces reserve officer, allowed war crimes to be committed during the IDF's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip this winter.

The officer - a dual citizen of Israel and South Africa, where he was born - served in the Military Advocate General's international law department, which authorized which targets troops would strike before and during the operation.

Newsweek magazine released an interview Monday with ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina in which he said he is convinced his office has the authority to launch an investigation into Benjamin's actions.

The ICC has until now refrained from trying IDF officers, as it lacks authority to do so, since Israel is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome Treaty that founded the court. South Africa, however, did sign the treaty, so the ICC is authorized to indict its citizens.
In case any of you missed it, Benjamin is not a combat officer on the field of battle: He's a lawyer. So in addition to the question of whether Benjamin ought to be subject to ICC jurisdiction as a South African citizen for acts he performed as an Israeli citizen, we face a situation where Benjamin may be prosecuted for giving legal advice to the IDF regarding the permissibility of targeting certain terrorists or facilities. Does that sound familiar to you Americans? If not, it should.

In the United States, the Obama administration has vacillated regarding the idea of prosecuting Bush administration lawyers who approved 'enhanced interrogation techniques' for terrorists out of fear that such a prosecution would have a chilling effect on legal advice given to its own and future administrations. An ICC prosecution of lawyers could have precisely the same effect, and the United States and all western democracies ought to oppose it.

There's no picture on this post, because I'm sure the IDF and Advocate Benjamin would rather not have his picture all over the web even if I could find it and be sure it was him.


At 1:28 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The point dual citizens are vulnerable. It makes no sense for Israel to be held hostage to a hostile international body. Withdrawing from the UN would mean an end to Israel's obligations as well as the UN's meddlesome busybodiness over Israel. Without Israel to kick around, what will they do for fun?

Oh joy!


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