Israeli spy chief ‘threatened and stalked’ ICC prosecutor – Guardian

The ex-Mossad head attempted to pressure Fatou Bensouda into abandoning a war crimes probe, the outlet has reported

The former chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, allegedly  “threatened” the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to drop a war crimes probe launched in 2021, an investigation by The Guardian revealed on Tuesday.

Sources told the outlet that, several years ago, then-Mossad director Cohen attempted to threaten the former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a series of secret meetings.

Cohen’s covert contact and pressuring of Bensouda took place in the years leading up to her decision to open a formal probe into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territories, the report said, citing multiple anonymous sources.

Mossad’s objective was to “compromise the prosecutor or enlist her as someone who would cooperate with Israel’s demands,” as well as pressuring Bensouda to abandon her investigation, the article stated.

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Bensouda reportedly briefed a small group of senior ICC officials about Cohen’s attempts, expressing concern about his “persistent and threatening nature.”

Sources familiar with Bensouda’s disclosures to the ICC confirmed that Cohen had threatened her multiple times, with one of the officials saying the Mossad chief had used “despicable tactics” against Bensouda as part of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to influence her. The behavior was likened to “stalking.”

According to accounts shared with ICC officials, Cohen allegedly told the ICC prosecutor: “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.”

Israeli intelligence agencies conducted a covert “war” against the ICC for nearly a decade, aiming to derail investigations into alleged Israeli war crimes, the outlet said.

The revelations come as Bensouda’s successor, Karim Khan, last week applied for an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant based on the probe launched in 2021.

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Khan said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that top officials were guilty of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in the Gaza conflict. Khan also said he was seeking warrants for three senior members of Hamas.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court. Both Israel and its main ally, the US, have condemned the ICC announcement, with some US lawmakers calling for sanctions on The Hague court.

Earlier this year, Israel also faced accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest United Nations court.

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