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IDF concerned over prosecution of soldiers

Jerusalem Post
August 12, 2002

The IDF concern that the International Criminal Court will prosecute soldiers has heightened since a Jordanian was named chairman of upcoming ICC conference, military sources said yesterday.

The rationale for choosing a Jordanian involves political considerations and increases the concerns that the court will be politically motivated, the sources said.

Dubbed "Comfort My People," the telethon was the brainchild of Belarmino "Blackie" Gonzalez, owner of the Santa Fe, NM-based Christian television station KCHF-TV11. It will be broadcast via satellite from the Pittsburgh studios of Cornerstone Television, a Christian media outlet associated with televangelist Ron Hembree.

Gonzalez, whose station reaches 85 percent of homes in New Mexico, came up with the idea for the national telethon after he was asked by Andrew Lipman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Albuquerque, to help raise money for victims of terrorism.

Palestinian houses,
the field commander
legal counsel
army attorneys...

The 76 countries that have ratified the treaty to date are due to convene in New York to work out the arrangements for choosing the judges and the prosecutor for the court, which officially came into being on July 1.

According to the sources, the Jordanian representative was chosen as a way of encouraging other Arab states to join the court. So far, Jordan is the only Arab country that has ratified the Rome Covenant, which established the court's parameters.

Israel has so far refused to ratify the agreement and says it is waiting to see whether or not it is dominated by political considerations and biased against Israel.

Meanwhile, the army is having trouble stopping the media from publishing the names of middle-ranking officers involved in strikes against Palestinian terrorists. The measure is supposed to protect officers participating in actions against the Palestinians from prosecution by the ICC. The army is trying to revert to the practice of names of middle-ranking officers not being published, but the media have refused to cooperate, the sources said.

The army and the government are currently discussing whether to amend the law where necessary to accommodate international legislation. According to the military sources, the government could also opt to take an opposite approach and, like the US, pass legislation meant to weaken the international court's power over Israelis.

As an example of the differences between Israeli and ICC law, the sources referred to the definition of a "manifestly unlawful" action. According to the Israeli interpretation, a "manifestly unlawful" action is one that is so extreme and far from normative behavior as to be obviously illegal. According to the ICC definition, a "manifestly unlawful" act is one whose perpetrator knows what the law says but violates it anyway, even if the violation is relatively small.

The army also provides on-the-spot legal advice to commanders in the field before actions which might violate international law. This was revealed for the first time during a recent High Court of Justice hearing, when the state told the court that before demolishing Palestinian houses, the field commander received legal counsel from army attorneys.

However, the sources refused to say whether army lawyers were consulted before the air force bombed the home of Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh on July 22, killing him and 15 civilians, including nine children.