Israel’s Mossad chief threatened ICC prosecutor and family in covert intimidation campaign


ER Editor: Zerohedge also picks up the story here —

Mossad Chief Stalked, Threatened ICC Prosecutor Over War Crimes Probe: Report

The original report comes from … drumroll … The Guardian.

Revealed: Israeli spy chief ‘threatened’ ICC prosecutor over war crimes inquiry


Israel’s Mossad chief threatened ICC prosecutor and family in covert intimidation campaign


The former head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, personally threatened Fatou Bensouda, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and her family in a series of covert meetings, the Guardian has revealed in a shocking report exposing the clandestine campaigns of the apartheid state to thwart ICC probes into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders.

Former head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, at the Israeli foreign ministry on 15 October 2015 [GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images]

Several sources have revealed that Yossi Cohen personally threatened the ICC‘s then chief prosecutor, Bensouda, and her family in a series of clandestine meetings aimed at pressuring her to abandon her inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The covert campaign is said to have been authorised at the highest levels of the Israeli government, with Cohen using bullying, blackmail and intimidation tactics against Bensouda. Sources say Cohen raised questions about Bensouda’s security and that of her family in a menacing manner on at least three occasions between late 2019 and early 2021.

In one disturbing incident, Cohen allegedly showed Bensouda photographs taken covertly of her husband during a trip to London. On another occasion, he suggested that proceeding with a full investigation would be detrimental to her career. One source briefed on the meetings said Cohen told Bensouda:

You should help us and let us take care of you. You don’t want to be getting into things that could compromise your security or that of your family.

The threats were part of a coordinated smear campaign by Israel to undermine Bensouda, which also involved Mossad actively seeking compromising information on the prosecutor and her family members. The spy agency obtained transcripts of an apparent sting operation against Bensouda’s husband, which Israeli diplomats then unsuccessfully attempted to use to discredit her.

Bensouda was so alarmed by Cohen’s increasingly threatening behaviour that she took the extraordinary step of briefing a small group of senior ICC officials about the incidents. Three sources familiar with her formal disclosures said she revealed Cohen had pressured her on several occasions not to proceed with the criminal investigation.

Mossad’s targeting of Bensouda was just one part of a nearly decade-long covert “war” waged by multiple Israeli intelligence agencies against the ICC. Israel’s actions underscore the lengths it is willing to go to shield its citizens from prosecution for their involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Palestinian territories.

However, Cohen’s intimidation tactics ultimately failed to deter Bensouda or the court. In March 2021, she announced the opening of a formal investigation. The move infuriated the Israeli government, which had long opposed the ICC inquiry and even vowed to try to dismantle the court.

Bensouda began her work to open a war crimes investigation into Israel’s actions following the 2014 onslaught on Gaza, despite facing intense pressure and opposition from Israel and the US. In December 2019, the Gambian lawyer announced that she had concluded her preliminary examination and determined that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute had been met to open a formal investigation. This move was met with further condemnation and threats from Israel and the US, with the administration of former US President Donald Trump imposing sanctions on Bensouda and other ICC officials in response.

In February 2021, the ICC’s pre-trial chamber ruled that the court did indeed have jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories, paving the way for Bensouda to open a formal investigation in March 2021. The landmark decision was hailed as a victory for accountability and justice by Palestinian officials and human rights groups. Bensouda’s term as chief prosecutor ended in June 2021, leaving her successor, Karim Khan, to take up the investigation and build on her work to hold those responsible for war crimes in Palestine accountable.

The investigation has now taken a dramatic turn under Bensouda’s successor, Karim KhanLast week, Khan announced he was seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, alongside three Hamas leaders, over the country’s conduct in Gaza. The landmark case marks the first time the court has taken action against leaders of a country closely allied with the US and Europe.

Khan himself has not been spared from threats, warning recently that he would not hesitate to prosecute “attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence” ICC officials. While declining to comment on specific allegations, an ICC spokesperson confirmed that Khan’s office had been subjected to “several forms of threats and communications that could be viewed as attempts to unduly influence its activities”.

The revelations about Israel’s covert operation against Bensouda have been met with outrage from legal experts and former ICC officials. Efforts by the Mossad to threaten or pressure the prosecutor could amount to offences against the administration of justice under the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the court.

One individual briefed on Cohen’s activities accused him of using “despicable tactics” in a ultimately futile effort to intimidate Bensouda, likening his behaviour to “stalking”. Another source said: “The fact they chose the head of Mossad to be the prime minister’s unofficial messenger to [Bensouda] was to intimidate, by definition. It failed.”



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