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Spying, hacking, intimidation: Investigation exposes Israel’s war on international court

An investigation has revealed how Israeli intelligence agencies aimed to derail the International Criminal Court's’s inquiries against its leaders.
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ICC prosecutor Karim Khan

Published: 29 May 2024

Last updated: 30 May 2024

When the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor announced he was seeking arrest warrants against Israeli and Hamas leaders, he issued a cryptic warning: “I insist that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence the officials of this court must cease immediately”.

The prosecutor Karim Khan did not say who had attempted to intervene in the administration of justice or how exactly they had done so.

Now, an investigation by the Guardian and Israeli-based magazines +972 and Local Call has revealed how Israel ran an almost decade-long secret war against the court.

The investigation found the country deployed its intelligence agencies to survey, hack, pressure, smear and allegedly threaten senior ICC staff to derail the court’s inquiries. Israeli intelligence captured the communications of numerous ICC officials, including Khan and his predecessor Fatou Bensouda, intercepting phone calls, messages, emails and documents.

The surveillance was ongoing in recent months, providing Netanyahu with advance knowledge of the prosecutor’s intentions. Bensouda, who as chief prosecutor opened the ICC’s investigation in 2021, was also spied on and allegedly threatened.

Netanyahu was described by one source as being “obsessed” with intercepts about the case.

The efforts involved the domestic spy agency (Shin Bet), the military’s intelligence directorate (Aman), and cyber-intelligence division (Unit 8200), with intelligence gleaned disseminated to government ministries of justice, foreign and strategic affairs.

A covert operation against Bensouda was run personally by Netanyahu’s close ally Yossi Cohen, who was the director of the Mossad at the time.

The joint investigation draws on interviews with over two dozen current and former Israeli intelligence officers and government officials, senior ICC figures, diplomats and lawyers familiar with the ICC case and Israel’s efforts to undermine it.


Spying, hacking and intimidation: Israel’s nine-year ‘war’ on the ICC exposed (Guardian)


Ex-Mossad chief 'threatened' ICC prosecutor to drop Israel investigation - report (Jerusalem Post)
Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen reportedly acted as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "unofficial messenger."

Israeli campaign against ICC may be ‘crimes against justice’, say legal experts (Guardian)
International lawyers believe conduct of Israeli intelligence service should be investigated by prosecutor in The Hague


By attacking and undermining the ICC, Israel has proved again it is a state gone rogue (Simon Tisdall, Guardian)
Benjamin Netanyahu and his associates are already doubling down against these allegations. They must be made to answer them


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